Hermes Trismegistus was a Roman adaptation of the Egyptian god Thoth. Thoth was the god of scribes, portrayed either as a baboon or as an ibis headed man and often holding a pen and scroll. His historical authenticity is arguable, and he could have represented the entire Egyptian community of scribes, embodying the wisdom of ancient Egypt passed down from one generation to another through the power of the pen and scroll. To Hermes Trismegistus are ascribed the sayings that adorn the title of this site: “As above so below” and “As within so without.”
Hermes Trismegistus on As Above so below
For all we know, Hermes Trismegistus might have easily been the first philosopher in the history of mankind. It is thought that, with Egypt’s decline, his influence and teaching traveled to all neighboring cultures of ancient times, from Greece to Israel and from Rome to Byzantium.
Unity and Multiplicity
If each cosmos mirrors the one above it and the one beneath it, the increase of knowledge runs in omnidirectional lines. It is known that the ancient Egyptians excelled in many artistic and scientific areas. They were master stone carvers, temple builders and woodworkers. They excelled in agriculture, astronomy and biology. The wisdom of Hermes suggest that, in ancient times, each field supported and reinforced the rest, so as to form a firm body of knowledge. The Egyptian ruins which remain in present days attest to the high level of their culture.
Yet truth is distorted with time, and the wisdom of Egypt, too, fell under corruption and eventual demise. One dynasty replaced another, and the Roman empire conquered Egypt, banning the worship of its gods in the 4th century AD. ‘Those who read my writings will think them to be quite simply and clearly written,” said Hermes Trismegistus, ”but those who hold opposite principles to start with, will say that the style is obscure and conceals the meaning.”