In some versions of the legend, Hermes Trismegistus
was not a god but an ancient Egyptian alchemist who had taken his name from Hermes and was buried in a chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Magia, alchimia, scienza dat '400 al '700: L'influsso di Ermete Trismegisto/Magic, Alchemy and Science: The Influence of Hermes Trismegistus
Pico's syncretic gathering from Hebrew, Christian, and Neoplatonic writings garnished by the prisci theologi, as they are referred to -- the "early theologians" Hermes Trismegistus
, Zoroaster and Moses -- makes a heady mystical brew, even for his Renaissance man as "maker and moulder of thyself.
In its final form (which Ficino would hold for the rest of his life and which itself appears first in the initial redaction of his Philebus commentary of 1469), the succession of ancient figures was as follows: Zoroaster, Hermes Trismegistus
(both of whom he considered to be near contemporaries of Moses), Orpheus, Aglaophemus, Pythagoras, and Plato.
They analyze Ficino's exegesis of other dialogues such as the Ion (15), the Timaeus (11), and the Parmenides (8, 10); or they treat particular themes in Ficino's thought such as his theory of the soul and the five substances (1, 8), his demonology (14), his exposition of the Hercules myth (13), or his relationship to Hermes Trismegistus
And in the concluding three sections I will propose that Descartes's thought took shape as an itinerary across a discursive field structured not only by the scholastic texts to which modern Cartesian scholarship has so insistently drawn attention, but also (and decisively) by two diametrically opposed groups of texts: the "philosophical" writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and the theological writings of Jean Calvin.
87) Would it be extravagant to construe these words as implying some degree of affiliation to that most ancient philosopher Hermes Trismegistus, who was still, in the 1640s and later, being held up by a distinguished member of Dinet's Jesuit order as the major source of what Steuchus a century earlier had called the philosophia perennis?
93) So also does one of their common sources, the first dialogue of the Pimander of Hermes Trismegistus - where, in Ficino's translation, the key word is again umbra, and where the insistent lesson is of a separation of mind from body which will free the self from the deceptions of the senses and from what in the thirteenth dialogue are called "the irrational afflictions of matter.
These volumes well exemplify the two general types of literature associated with the mythical Hermes Trismegistus, whom ancient, medieval, and Renaissance scholars identified as a great Egyptian sage, the founder of Egyptian civilization, and the inventor of theology.
The Latin work De triginta sex decanis is also attributed to the mythical Hermes Trismegistus, but it represents the "technical" part of the Hermetic tradition and presents not a vaguely philosophical wisdom but a flood of practical and specific details on stellar and planetary names and positions that would be useful to practicing astrologers rather than to people meditating on the nature and destiny of humanity.
Copenhaver shows how Ficino's interpretation of Hermes Trismegistus
derives from Lactantius' favorable attitude rather than Augustine's hostile one.