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Hermetica, vol. 1 * Walter Scott (isbn 1570626308)

What a wonderfull book! Fully intitled “Hermetica, vol. 1: the ancient greek and latin writings which contain religious or philosophic teachings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus”. I already had a great Dutch translation with excellent commentaries of the Corpus Hermeticum and another of the Asclepius, but I was looking for translations of the Stobaeus fragments. There are a few books that have them, usually the more scientific publishings like Nock/Festugière and the like. In the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam I have been paging through a few of those, and they also had the book of Walter Scott (1855-1925) which to my delightenment contains the Corpus and the Asclepius, but also the Stobaeus and Tertulianus fragments and all this in one book. More even! This book printed both the Greek text of the Corpus and the fragments and the Latin text of the Asclepius. These original texts are printed on the left pages and the translations on the right. However I can’t read Greek and not much Latin, these double texts proved extremely helpfull, since now I can see for myself which words are used for different concepts like ‘Deus’ for ‘God’, ‘demiurgos’ for ‘Maker’, ‘pneuma’ for ‘life-breath’ or sometimes ‘vital-soul’, ‘nous’ for the ‘mind of God’ and the ‘mind/spirit of man’, ‘hyle’ for ‘matter’, etc. or in Latin ‘psyche’ for ‘soul’ and ‘Theos’ for ‘God’. Scott’s translation is most of the time very literal, so words like these can even be found by people like myself who don’t know much of different languages (fortunately I have a girlfriend who is able to read book Greek and Latin). Sometimes Scott comes to different translations than my Dutch books and in most cases, I agree with Scott’s versions. Unfortunately Scott sometimes leaves parts untranslated and Asclepius is totally mixed up (he gives the right counting though). I suppose even more manuscripts than those were known to Scott have been found in the last 80 years. He didn’t live to know the Coptic Asclepius in the Nag-Hammadi library for example.

And however the book opens with 100 pages with detailed information about Hermetic scriptures and earlier publications of them, this first volume is followed the three others: volume two with notes on the Corpus, volume three with notes on the Asclepius and volume four with “addenda and indices”. I only have volume 1, which is quite sufficient. Anyway, highly recommanded for anyone with (semi-)scientific interests in the Hermetic texts!
addition : some people say that Scott is sloppy in giving the texts and translating them and that you better buy a similiar title

Read Hermetic quotes here.

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