The sage, scientist and sorcerer Hermes Trismegistus was the culture-hero of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. A human according to some, who had lived about the time of Moses, but now indisputably a god, he was credited with the authorship of a whole library of books on magic and the supernatural, alchemy, astrology, theology and philosophy. Starting from the complex fusions and tensions that moulded Graeco-Egyptian culture, and in particular Hermetism, in the centuries after Alexander, Dr Fowden goes on to argue that the technical and philosophical Hermetica, apparently so different, might be seen as aspects of a single 'way of Hermes' that led the initiate from knowledge of the World through knowledge of the Self to knowledge of God. The focus and conclusion of the book is an assault on the problem of the social milieu of Hermetism by looking at the mythological facade of the texts themselves and deploying the numerous allusions to be found in other sources of the period.
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