Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetic Writings
Home The God The Writings The Cult The Links The Bibliography

Thesis and Introduction

Hermes Trismegistus

The Hermetic writings, the figure of Hermes Trismegistus, and the cult(s) which grew up around them during the Hellenistic age represent an attempt at a philosophical religious system which is extremely broad in scope, explaining and commenting on nearly every aspect of life and the world, and which gives an element of the divine to everything and clear and distinct goals and purpose to human life. In putting together its view of the world and human life, this system also draws upon and is influenced by many diverse and disparate religious and philosophical traditions, making it a unique blend of various aspects of the Hellenistic world.

However, because of this broad range and the diverse base of traditions which Hermes Trismegistus and his cult draw upon, it is difficult sometimes to identify the common themes running through all of Hermeticism, or any consistency within the body of Hermetic literature - at times even to the point of wondering if there is a common theme or consistency other than the supposed founder of the cult and author of the writings (Stock, 628; Mahé, 289). So in exploring Hermeticism it is perhaps easiest to break the subject up into four major categories: the god, Hermes Trismegistus; the Hermetic writings; the beliefs and practices of Hermeticism; and the ties between Hermeticism and other traditions . By examining each of these categories for major themes, we should be able to come to a general understanding of the nature and scope of Hermeticism.