The Asclepius


1. Now of that dual nature,—that is to say of man,—there is a chief capacity. [And that is] piety, which goodness follows after.

[And] this [capacity] then, and then only, seems to be perfected, if it be fortified with virtue of despising all desires for alien things.

For alien from every part of kinship with the Gods are all things on the Earth, whatever are possessed from bodily desires,—to which we rightly give the name “possessions,” in that they are not born with us, but later on begin to be possessed by us; wherefore we call them by the name possessions.

2. All such things, then, are alien from man,—even his body. So that we can despise not only what we long for, but also that from which the vice of longing comes to us.

For just as far as the increase of reason leads our soul, so far one should be man; in order that by contemplating the divine, one should look down upon, and disregard the mortal part, which hath been joined to him, through the necessity of helping on the lower world.

3. For that, in order that a man should be complete in either part, observe that he hath been composed of elements of either part in sets of four;—with hands, and feet, both of them pairs, and with the other members of his body, by means of which he may do service to the lower (that is to say the terrene) world.

And to these parts [are added other] four;—of sense, and soul, of memory, and foresight, by means of which he may become acquainted with the rest of things divine, and judge of them.

Hence it is brought about that man investigates the differences and qualities, effects and quantities of things, with critical research; yet, as he is held back with the too heavy weight of body’s imperfection, he cannot properly descry the causes of the nature of [all] things which [really] are the true ones.

4. Man, then, being thus created and composed, and to such ministry and service set by Highest God,—man, by his keeping suitably the world in proper order, [and] by his piously adoring God, in both becomingly and suitably obeying God’s Good Will,—[man being] such as this, with what reward think’st thou he should be recompensed?

If that, indeed,—since Cosmos is God’s work,—he who preserves and adds on to its beauty by his love, joins his own work unto God’s Will; when he with toil and care doth fashion out the species (which He hath made [already] with His Divine Intent), with help of his own body;—with what reward think’st thou he should be recompensed, unless it be with that with which our forebears have been blest?

5. That this may be the pleasure of God’s Love, such is our prayer for you, devoted ones.

In other words, may He, when ye have served your time, and have put off the world’s restraint, and freed yourselves from deathly bonds, restore you pure and holy to the nature of your higher self, that is of the Divine!

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