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Corpus Hermeticum: To Asclepius (a comparison of the English translations)

Everard's Translation Mead's Translation Modern translation
The Ninth Book. TO ASCLEPIUS
A Universal Sermon to Asclepius. (Text: P. 19-30; Pat. 18b-20.)
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1. Hermes. All that is moved, O Asclepius, is it not moved in some thing, and by some thing? 1. Hermes. 1 All that is moved, Asclepius, is it not moved in something and by something? 1. H - Is not everything that is moved, 0 Asclepius, moved in something and by something?
2. Asclepius. Yes, indeed. Asclepius. Assuredly. A -Certainly.
3. Hermes. Must not that, in which a thing is. moved, of necessity be greater than the thing that is moved? Her. And must not that in which it’s moved be greater than the moved? H -Must not that in which something is moved be greater than what is moved?
4. Of necessity. Asc. It must. A-It must.
5. And that which moveth, is it not stronger than that which is moved? Her. Mover, again, has greater power than moved? H -Must not the mover be more powerful than the moved?
6. Asclepius. It is stronger. Asc. It has, of course. A -Definitely more powerful.
7. Hermes. That in which a thing is moved, must it not needs have a Nature, contrary to that of the thing that is moved? Her. The nature, furthermore, of that in which it’s moved must be quite other from the nature of the moved? H - And must not that in which movement occurs have a nature opposite to that of the moved?
8. Asclepius. It must needs. Asc. It must completely. A -Yes, indeed.
9. Hermes. Is not this great World a Body, than which there is no greater? 2. Her. Is not, again, this cosmos vast, [so vast] that than it there exists no body greater? 2. H -Now this cosmos is vast. Surely there is not a greater body than this?
10. Asclepius. Yes, confessedly. Asc. Assuredly. A-Agreed.
11. Hermes. And is it not solid, as filled with many great Bodies, and indeed, with all the Bodies that are Her. And massive too, for it is crammed with multitudes of other mighty frames, nay rather all the other bodies that there are? H -And it is dense? For it is filled with many other great bodies, or rather with all bodies that exist.
12. Asclepius. It is so. Asc. It is. A - That is so.
13. Hermes. And is not the World a Body, Her. And yet the cosmos is a body? H -Is the cosmos a body?
Asc. It is a body. A-It is.
 and a Body that is moved. Her. And one that’s moved? H - Is it moved?
14. Asclepius. It is. 3. Asc. Assuredly. 3. A -Certainly.
15. Hermes. Then what kind of a place must it be, wherein it is moved, and of what Nature? Must it not he much bigger, that it may receive the continuity of Motion? and lest that which is moved should for want of room, be stayed, and hindered in the Motion ? Her. Of what size, then, must be the space in which it’s moved; and of what kind [must be] the nature [of that space]? Must it not be far vaster [than the cosmos], in order that it may be able to find room for its continued course, so that the moved may not be cramped for want of room and lose its motion? H -Then how large must be the space in which the cosmos is moved and what is the nature of that space? Must it not be much larger, in order to accommodate the continuous course of the movement of the cosmos and to prevent its motion from being hindered by its confinement?
16. Asclepius. It must needs be an immense thing, Trismegistus, but of what Nature. Asc. Something, Thrice-greatest one, it needs must be, immensely vast. A -It must be something huge, 0 Trismegistus.
17. Hermes. Of a contrary Nature, O Asclepius; but is not the Nature of things unbodily, contrary to a Body. 4. Her. And of what nature? Must it not be, Asclepius, of just the contrary? And is not contrary to body bodiless? 4. H - What is it like? Must it not be of an opposite nature, Asclepius? And the nature opposite to body is bodiless.
18. Asclepius. Confessedly. Asc. Agreed. A-Agreed.
19. Hermes. Therefore the place is unbodily; but that which is unbodily, is either some Divine thing or God himself. And by some thing Divine, I do not mean that which was made or begotten. Her. Space, then, is bodiless. But bodiless must either be some godlike thing or God [Himself]. And by “some godlike thing” I mean no more the generable but the ingenerable. 1 H -The space then, is bodiless. The bodiless is either divine or it is God. I understand 'divine' to mean not 'begotten' but 'unbegotten'.
20. If therefore it be Divine, it is an Essence or Substance but if it be God, it is above Essence; but he is otherwise intelligible. 5. If, then, space be some godlike thing, it is substantial 1; but if ’tis God [Himself], it transcends substance. But it is to be thought of otherwise [than God], and in this way. 5. If the bodiless is divine it is endowed with being; if it is God it stands apart from being, otherwise, it would be perceptible.
21. For the first, God is intelligible, not to himself, but to us, for that which is intelligible, is subject to that which understandeth by Sense. God is first “thinkable”  for us, not for Himself, for that the thing that’s thought doth fall beneath the thinker’s sense.  For that which is perceived is perceived by the sense of the perceiver; 
22. Therefore God is not intelligible to himself, for not being any other thing from that which is understood, he cannot be understood by himself. God then can not be “thinkable” unto Himself,  therefore, God is not perceived by Himself. However, in that He is not other than that which is perceived, He does perceive Himself.
23. But he is another thing from us, and therefore he is understood by us. in that He’s thought of by Himself as being nothing else than what He thinks.  To us He is something separate and it is because of this that we perceive Him.
24. If therefore Place be intelligible, it is not Place but God, but if God be intelligible, he is intelligible not as Place, but as a capable Operation. 6. If space is, therefore, to be thought, [it should] not, [then, be thought as] God, but space. If God is also to be thought, [He should] not [be conceived] as space, but energy that can contain [all space]. But if the space in which the cosmos is moved is perceived, it is not God but simply space.
25. Now everything that is moved, is moved, not in or by that which is moved, but in that which standeth or resteth, and that which moveth standeth or resteth, for it is impossible it should be moved with it. Further, all that is moved is moved not in the moved but in the stable. And that which moves [another] is of course stationary, for ’tis impossible that it should move with it. If the space is God, it is no longer space, but that which encompasse& all activity. All that is moved is not moved in what is moved, but in what is unmoved. The mover is still; it is impossible for Himd to be moved.
26. Asclepius. How then, O Trismegistus, are those things that are here moved with the things that are moved? for thou sayest that the Spheres that wander are moved by the Sphere that wanders not. Asc. How is it, then, that things down here, Thrice-greatest one, are moved with those that are [already] moved? For thou hast said 4 the errant spheres were moved by the inerrant one. A -How then, 0 Trismegistus, are these things here moved by those which move them? For you have said that the planetary spheres are moved by the fixed stars.
27. Hermes. That, O Asclepius, is not a moving together, but a countermotion, for they are not moved after a like manner, but contrary one to the other; and contrariety hath a standing resistance of motion for resistance is a staying of motion. Her. This is not, O Asclepius, a moving with, but one against; they are not moved with one another, but one against the other. It is this contrariety which turneth the resistance of their motion into rest. For that resistance is the rest of motion. H -It is not the same movement, 0 Asclepius, but a movement in the opposite direction, for they are not moved in the same way, but in a way opposite to each other. This countermovement has a point for its movement that is fixed.
28. Therefore the wandering Spheres being moved contrarily to that Sphere which wandereth not, shall have one from another contrariety standing of itself. 7. Hence, too, the errant spheres, being moved contrarily to the inerrant one, are moved by one another by mutual contrariety, [and also] by the stable one through contrariety itself. And this can otherwise not be. For countermovement is the bringer of stillnessf• Now the planetary spheres are moved in the opposite direction to the fixed stars. They are moved by each other in opposition. They are moved round their opposite by a point which is fixed and it cannot be otherwise.
29. For this Bear which thou seest neither rise nor go down, but turning always about the same; dost thou think it moveth or standeth still? The Bears up there, which neither set nor rise, think’st thou they rest or move? Those two Bears [the constellations which you see] neither set nor rise and are turned about the same point, do you think they are moved or are fixed?
30. Asclepius. I think it moves, Trismegistus. Asc. They move, Thrice-greatest one. A -They are moved, 0 Trismegistus.
31. What motion, O Asclepius? Her. And what their motion, my Asclepius? H -With what kind of movement, Asclepius?
32. Asclepius. A motion that is always carried about the same. Asc. Motion that turns for ever round the same. A - With a movement that turns around that point.
33. But the Circulation which is about the same, and the motion about the same, are both hidden by Station; for that which is about the same forbids that which is above the same, if it stand to that which is about the same. Her. But revolution—motion round same—is fixed by rest. For “round-the-same” doth stop “beyond-same.” “Beyond-same” then, being stopped, if it be steadied in “round-same”— H -The circular movement is a movement about that point  governed by ,that which is still, for revolution round that point prevents any digression; digression is prevented, if the revolution is established. 
34. And so the contrary motion stands fast always, being always established by the contrariety. the contrary stands firm, being rendered ever stable by its contrariety.  Thus the movement in the opposite direction is stabilising and is flXed by the principle of countermovement ..
35. But I will give thee concerning this matter, an earthly example that may be seen with eyes. 8. Of this I’ll give thee here on earth an instance, which the eye can see. 8. I shall give you an example upon earth under your very eyes
36. Look upon any of these living Creatures upon Earth, as Man for example, and see him swimming; for as the Water is carried one way, the reluctation or resistance of his feet and hands is made a station to the man, that he should not be carried with the Water, nor sink underneath it.  Regard the animals down here,—a man, for instance, swimming! The water moves, yet the resistance of his hands and feet give him stability, so that he is not borne along with it, nor sunk thereby. Look at mortal beings, for instance a man swimming. The water flows, but the counteraction of feet and hands provide stability for the man, so that he is not carried down stream.
37. Asclepius. Thou hast laid down a very clear example, Trismegistus. Asc. Thou hast, Thrice-greatest one, adduced a most clear instance. A - A very clear example, Trismegistus.
38. Hermes. Therefore every motion is in station, and is moved of station. Her. All motion, then, is caused in station and by station. H. -All movement then is produced in that which does not move and by that which does not move.
39. The motion then of the World, and of every material living thing, happeneth not to be done by those things that are without the World, but by those things within it, a Soul, or Spirit, or some other unbodily thing, to those things which are without it. The motion, therefore, of the cosmos (and of every other hylic animal 1) will not be caused by things exterior to the cosmos, but by things interior [outward] to the exterior—such [things] as soul, or spirit, or some such other thing incorporal. Therefore, the movement of the cosmos and of all living material turns out not to arise from what comes from outside the cosmos but from what is within, which moves outward: from the soul, from the breath of life or from another incorporeal being. 
40. For an inanimated Body, doth not now, much less a Body if it be wholly inanimate. ’Tis not its body that doth move the living thing in it; nay, not even the whole [body of the universe a lesser] body e’en though there be no life in it.  For a body does not move a body that has a soul, nor in general any body even if it has no soul.
41. Asclepius. What meaneth thou by this, O Trismegistus, Wood and Stones, and all other inanimate things, are they not moving Bodies? 9. Asc. What meanest thou by this, Thrice-greatest one? Is it not bodies, then, that move the stock and stone and all the other things inanimate? 9. A - How can you say this, Trismegistus? Cannot pieces of wood, stones and other things that have no soul move bodies?
42. Hermes. By no means, O Asclepius, for that within the Body which moves the inanimate thing, is not the Body, that moves both as well the Body of that which beareth, as the Body of that which is born; for one dead or inanimate thing, cannot move another; that which moveth, must needs be alive if it move. Her. By no means, O Asclepius. The something-in-the-body, the that-which-moves the thing inanimate, this surely’s not a body, for that it moves the two of them—both body of the lifter and the lifted? So that a thing that’s lifeless will not move a lifeless thing. That which doth move [another thing] is animate, in that it is the mover. H -Not so, Asclepius. When a: body moves something without a soul, it is that within, not the body, which moves both the bearer and what is born. Hence a body with a soul, when it moves, moves that which is inert.
43. Thou seest therefore how the Soul is surcharged, when it carrieth two Bodies. Thou seest, then, how heavy laden is the soul, for it alone doth lift two bodies. Therefore you see the soul is weighed down whenever on its own it carries two bodies.
44. And now it is manifest, that the things that are moved are moved in something, and by something. That things, moreover, moved are moved in something as well as moved by something is clear. Clearly then, things which are moved are moved in something and by something.
45. Asclepius. The things that are, O Trismegistus, must needs be moved in that which is void or empty, Vacuum. 10. Asc. Yea, O Thrice-greatest one, things moved must needs be moved in something void.  10. A -Must objects be moved in something, 0 Trismegistus?
46. Be advised, O Asclepius, for of all the things that are, there is nothing empty, only that which is not, is empty and a stranger to existence or being. Her. Thou sayest well, O [my] Asclepius!  For naught of things that are is void. H - They must, Asclepius. Nothing which is, is a void; 
47. But that which is, could not be if it were not full of existence, for that which is in being or existence can never be made empty. Alone the “is-not” ’s void [and] stranger to subsistence. For that which is subsistent can never change to void.  only non-existence is void, being foreign to existence can never be void.
48. Asclepius. Are there not therefore some things that are empty, O Trismegistus, as an empty Barrel, an empty Hogshead, an empty Well, an empty Wine- Press, and many such like? Asc. Are there, then, O Thrice-greatest one, no such things as an empty cask, for instance, and an empty jar, a cup and vat, and other things like unto them? A -But are there not some things which are void, 0 Trismegistus, such as an empty jar, an empty pot, a whole river bed and other similar things?
49. Hermes. O the grossness of thy Error, O Asclepius, those things that are most full and replenished, dost thou account them void and empty. Her. Alack, Asclepius, for thy far-wandering from the truth! Think’st thou that things most full and most replete are void? H -What a huge mistake, Asclepius! What is totally full and quite enormous you have simply taken as empty.
50. Asclepius. What may be thy meaning, Trismegistus? 11. Asc. How meanest thou, Thrice-greatest one? 11. A -How can you say this, 0 Trismegistus?
51. Hermes. Is not the Air a Body? Her. Is not air body? H - Is air a substance, Asclepius?
52. Asclepius. It is a Body. Asc. It is. A- It is.
53. Hermes. Why then this Body doth it not pass through all things that are and passing through them, fill them? Her. And doth this body not pervade all things, and so, pervading, fill them?  H - Does not this substance pervade all that exists, and in pervading all does it not fill it?
 and that Body doth it not consist of the mixture of the four? And “body”; doth body not consist from blending of the “four”?  Is this substance not a mixture of substances?
 therefore all things which thou callest empty are full of Air. Full, then, of air are all thou callest void; and if of air, then of the “four.”  Therefore, are not all things which you say are void filled with air?
54. Therefore those things that thou callest empty, thou oughtest to call them hollow, not empty, for they exist and are full of Air and Spirit. Further, of this the converse follows, that all thou callest full are void—of air; for that they have their space filled out with other bodies, and, therefore, are not able to receive the air therein. These, then, which thou dost say are void, they should be hollow named, not void; for they not only are, but they are full of air and spirit. Therefore, those things which you say are void one should call hollow, not void.  The fact is that they are full of air and the breath of life.
55. Asclepius. This reason is beyond all contradiction, O Trismegistus, but what shall we call the Place in which the whole Universe is moved?  12. Asc. Thy argument (logos), Thrice-greatest one, is not to be gainsaid; air is a body. Further, it is this body which doth pervade all things, and so, pervading, fill them. What are we, then, to call that space in which the all doth move? 12. Your words are irrefutable, 0 Trismegistus. So what shall we say is the space in which everything is moved?
56. Hermes. Call it incorporeal, O Asclepius. Her. The Bodiless, Asclepius. H - It is bodiless, Asclepius.
57. Asclepius. What is that incorporeal or unbodily? Asc. What, then, is Bodiless? A - But what is the bodiless?
58. Hermes. The Mind and Reason, the whole, wholly comprehending itself, free from all Body, undeceivable, invisible, impassible from a Body itself, standing fast in itself, capable of all things, and that favour of the things that are. Whereof the Good, the Truth, the Archetypal Light, the Archetype of the Soul, are as it were Beams. Her. ’Tis Mind and Reason (Logos), whole out of whole, all self-embracing, free from all body, from all error free, unsensible to body and untouchable, self stayed in self, containing all, preserving those that are, whose rays, to use a likeness, are Good, Truth, Light beyond light, the Archetype of soul. H -Nous, the Word, emerging out of that which is whole, entire and complete; Nous containing itself, unembodied, steadfast, unaffected, and impalpable, itself standing by itself, containing and ,preserving all beings, whoser glories are the Supreme Good, truth, the origin of breath, the origin of soul.
60. Asclepius. Why then, what is God? Asc. What, then, is God? A - What then is God?
61. Hermes. That which is none of these things, yet is, and is the cause of Being to all; 13. Her. Not any one of these is He; for He it is that causeth them to be, both all and each and every thing of all that are.  H - He is not any one of these, but He is the cause of their existence, the cause of the existence of everything and of every individual.
 and every one of the things that are; for he left nothing destitute of Being. Nor hath He left a thing beside that is-not; but they are all from things-that-are and not from things-that-are-not. 13. He has left no space for the unreal. All that is has come fromthe real and not from the unreal. 
62. And all things are made of things that are, and not of things that are not; for the things that are not, have not the nature to be able to be made; and again, the things that are, have not the nature never to be, or not to be at all.  For that the things-that-are-not have naturally no power of being anything, but rather have the nature of the inability-to-be. And, conversely, the things-that-are have not the nature of some time not-being. The quality of the unreal is that it cannot come into existence, indeed it cannot become anything. Again the real never has the nature of the unreal.
63. Asclepius. What dost thou then say at length, that God is? 14. Asc. What say’st thou ever, then, God is? 14. A,.... What do you mean by: 'never has the nature of the unreal?'
64. Hermes. God is not a Mind, but the Cause that the Mind is; not a Spirit, but the Cause that the Spirit is; not Light, but the Cause that Light is. Her. God, therefore, is not Mind, but Cause that the Mind is; God is not Spirit, but Cause that Spirit is; God is not Light, but Cause that the Light is.  H - God is Nous and the cause of existence; He is not breath, but the cause of the breath's existence; He is not light, but the cause of the light's existence. 
65. Therefore we must worship God by these two Appellations which are proper to him alone, and to no other Hence should one honour God with these two names [the Good and Father]—names which pertain to Him alone and no one else. Thus one should worship God by these two names (Nous and the cause of existence), since they belong to Him alone and to no one else. 
66. For neither of all the other, which are called Gods, nor of Men, nor Demons, or Angels, can anyone be, though never so little, good, save only God alone. No other beings spoken of as gods, men or divine powers can be even in the slightest degree good, but God alone. 
67. And this He is, and nothing else; but all other things are separable from the nature of Good. God is this alone and nothing else. All other things are contained" within the nature of the Supreme Good, 
68. For the Body and the Soul have no place that is capable of or can contain the Good. for they are body and soul, but themselves have no place to contain the Supreme Good.
69. For the greatness of Good, is as great as the Existence of all things, that are both bodily and unbodily, both sensible and intelligible. 15. For that as mighty is the Greatness of the Good as is the Being of all things that are—both bodies and things bodiless, things sensible and intelligible things. 15. The greatness of this good is such that it is the reality of all beings; of the, bodily and of the bodiless, of the sensory and of the subtle.
70. This is the Good, even God. This is the Supreme Good, this is God.
71. See therefore that thou do not at any time, call ought else Good, for so thou shalt be impious, or any else God, but only the Good, for so thou shalt again be impious. Call not thou, therefore, aught else Good, for thou would’st impious be;  nor anything at all at any time call God but Good alone, for so thou would’st again be impious. Therefore, do not call anything else good since then you blaspheme, and do not ever call God anything but good, since then again you blaspheme.
72. In Word it is often said by all men the Good, but all men do not understand what it is; but through Ignorance they call both the Gods, and some men Good, that can never either be or be made so. 16. Though, then, the Good is spoken of by all, it is not understood by all, what thing it is. Not only, then, is God not understood by all, but both unto the gods and some of men they out of ignorance do give the name of Good, though they can never either be or become Good. For they are very different from God, while Good can never be distinguished from Him, for that God is the same as Good. 16. Everyone uses the term 'good', but what it is, not everyone perceives. On account of this , God is not perceived by everyone, but in ignorance they call gods and certain men good who can never be and never become good.
73. Therefore all the other Gods are honoured with the title and appellation of God, but God is the Good, not according to Heaven, but Nature. The rest of the immortal ones are natheless honoured with the name of God, and spoken of as gods; but God is Good not out of courtesy but out of nature.  The Supreme Good is not at all alien to God; it is inseparable from Him, as it is God Himself. All the other immortal gods are honoured by the name of God. However, God is good, not by being honoured, but by his nature. 
74. For there is one Nature of God, even the Good, and one kind of them both, from whence are all kinds. For that God’s nature and the Good is one; one is the kind of both, from which all other kinds [proceed]. For the nature of God is one: supreme goodness; God and goodness are one generative power, from which come all generations.
75. For he that is Good, is the giver of all things, and takes nothing and therefore God gives all things and receives nothing. The Good is He who gives all things and naught receives.  God, then, doth give all things and receive naught. God, then, is Good, and Good is God. He who gives all and takes nothing is good. God gives all and takes nothing. So God is the Supreme Good and the Supreme Good is God.
76. The other title and appellation, is the Father, because of his making all things; for it is the part of a Father to make. 17. The other name of God is Father, again because He is the that-which-maketh all.  The part of father is to make. The other name is that of the Father, by virtue of Him being the author of all things; for the, Father's nature is to create.
77. Therefore it bath been the greatest and most Religious care in this life, to them that are wise, and well-minded, to beget children. Therefore, the raising of children is held in the greatest esteem in life and most blessed by right-thinking people; 
78. As likewise it is the greatest misfortune and impiety for any to be separated from men, without children; and this man is punished after death by the Demons, and the punishment is this, To have the Soul of this childless man, adjudged and condemned to a Body, that neither bath the nature of a man, nor of a woman, which is an accursed thing under the Sun. Wherefore child-making is a very great and a most pious thing in life for them who think aright, and to leave life on earth without a child a very great misfortune and impiety; and he who hath no child is punished by the daimons after death. and  the greatest misfortune and impiety is when someone departs from mankind without children, for he suffers punishment after death from the divine powers. This is the retribution: that the soul without children is condemned to a body that is neither male nor female, and is cursed by the sun.
79. Therefore, O Asclepius, never congratulate any man that is childless; but on the contrary, pity his misfortune, knowing what punishment abides, and is prepared for him. Wherefore, Asclepius, let not your sympathies be with the man who hath no child, but rather pity his mishap, knowing what punishment abides for him. Therefore, Asclepius, do not congratulate anyone without children but rather take pity on his misfortune, knowing what punishment awaits him.
80. Let so many, and such manner of things, O Asclepius, be said as a certain precognition of all things in Nature. Let all that has been said, then, be to thee, Asclepius, an introduction to the gnosis of the nature of all things. Let this much be spoken as a foretaste to the understanding of the nature of the All.

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