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The Corpus Hermeticum




So then, Asclepius, the name alone of Good is found in men, the thing itself nowhere [in them], for this can 
never be.



For no material body doth contain It − a thing bound on all sides by bad, by labors, pains, desires and 
passions, by error and by foolish thoughts.



And greatest ill of all, Asclepius, is that each of these things that have been said above, is thought down here 
to be the greatest good.



And what is still an even greater ill, is belly−lust, the error that doth lead the band of all the other ills − the 
thing that makes us turn down here from Good.



4. And I, for my part, give thanks to God, that He hath cast it in my mind about the Gnosis of the Good, that 
it can never be It should be in the world. For that the world is "fullness" of the bad, but God of Good, and 

Good of God.


The excellencies of the Beautiful are round the very essence [of the Good]; nay, they do seem too pure, too 

unalloyed; perchance 'tis they that are themselves Its essences.


For one may dare to say, Asclepius − if essence, sooth, He have − God's essence is the Beautiful; the 

Beautiful is further also Good.


There is no Good that can be got from objects in the world. For all the things that fall beneath the eye are 

image−things and pictures as it were; while those that do not meet [the eye are the realities], especially the 

[essence] of the Beautiful and Good.


Just as the eye cannot see God, so can it not behold the Beautiful and Good. For that they are integral parts of 

God, wedded to Him alone, inseparate familiars, most beloved, with whom God is Himself in love, or they 
with God.



5. If thou canst God conceive, thou shalt conceive the Beautiful and Good, transcending Light, made lighter 
than the Light by God. That Beauty is beyond compare, inimitate that Good, e'en as God is Himself.



As, then, thou dost conceive of God, conceive the Beautiful and Good. For they cannot be joined with aught 
of other things that live, since they can never be divorced from God.



Seek'st thou for God, thou seekest for the Beautiful. One is the Path that leadeth unto It − Devotion joined 
with Gnosis.



6. And thus it is that they who do not know and do not tread Devotion's Path, do dare to call man beautiful
and good, though he have ne'er e'en in his visions seen a whit that's Good, but is enveloped with every kind of 

bad, and thinks the bad is good, and thus doth make unceasing use of it, and even feareth that it should be 

ta'en from him, so straining every nerve not only to preserve but even to increase it.


Such are the things that men call good and beautiful, Asclepius − things which we cannot flee or hate; for 

hardest thing of all is that we've need of them and cannot live without them.


VII. The Greatest Ill Among Men is Ignorance of God







VII. The Greatest Ill Among Men is Ignorance of God 18




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