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The Corpus Hermeticum




7. Hence, too, the errant spheres, being moved contrarily to the inerrant one, are moved by one another by 
mutual contrariety, [and also] by the spable one through contrariety itself. And this can otherwise not be.



The Bears up there, which neither set nor rise, think'st thou they rest or move? 


A: They move, Thrice−greatest one.


H: And what their motion, my Asclepius?



A: Motion that turns for ever round the same.


H: But revolution − motion around same − is fixed by rest. For "round−the−same" doth stop "beyond−same". 

"Beyond−same" then, being stopped, if it be steadied in "round−same" − the contrary stands firm, being 
rendered ever stable by its contrariety.



8. Of this I'll give thee here on earth an instance, which the eye can see. Regard the animals down here − a 
man, for instance, swimming! The water moves, yet the resistance of his hands and feet give him stability, so 

that he is not borne along with it, nor sunk thereby.


A: Thou hast, Thrice−greatest one, adduced a most clear instance. 



H: All motion, then, is caused in station and by station.


The motion, therefore, of the cosmos (and of every other hylic animal) will not be caused by things exterior 

to the cosmos, but by things interior [outward] to the exterior − such [things] as soul, or spirit, or some such 
other thing incorporeal.



'Tis not the body that doth move the living thing in it; nay, not even the whole [body of the universe a lesser] 
body e'en though there be no life in it.



9. A: What meanest thou by this, Thrice−greatest one? Is it not bodies, then, that move the stock and stone 
and all the other things inanimate?



H: By no means, O Asclepius. The something−in−the−body, the that−which−moves the thing inanimate, this 
surely's not a body, for that it moves the two of them − both body of the lifter and the lifted? So that a thing 

that's lifeless will not move a lifeless thing. That which doth move [another thing] is animate, in that it is the 

mover.


Thou seest, then, how heavy laden is the soul, for it alone doth lift two bodies. That things, moreover, moved 

are moved in something as well as moved by something is clear.


10. A: Yea, O Thrice−greatest one, things moved must needs be moved in something void.


H: Thou sayest well, O [my] Asclepius! For naught of things that are is void. Alone the "is−not" is void [and] 

stranger to subsistence. For that which is subsistent can never change to void.


A: Are there, then, O Thrice−greatest one, no such things as an empty cask, for instance, and an empty jar, a 

cup and vat, and other things like unto them?


H: Alack, Asclepius, for thy far−wandering from the truth! Think'st thou that things most full and most 

replete are void?


II. To Asclepius 9




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