A SUGGESTIVE INQUIRY INTO HERMETIC PHILOSOPHY AND ALCHEMY PDF

Further information: Hellenistic religion and Decline of Hellenistic polytheism In Late Antiquity , Hermetism [18] emerged in parallel with early Christianity , Gnosticism , Neoplatonism , the Chaldaean Oracles , and late Orphic and Pythagorean literature. These doctrines were "characterized by a resistance to the dominance of either pure rationality or doctrinal faith. Their predominant literary form is the dialogue : Hermes Trismegistus instructs a perplexed disciple upon various teachings of the hidden wisdom. According to Cudworth, the texts must be viewed as a terminus ad quem and not a terminus a quo. Lost Greek texts, and many of the surviving vulgate books, contained discussions of alchemy clothed in philosophical metaphor. One of these texts had the form of a conversation between Hermes and Asclepius.

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See also: Etymology of chemistry The word alchemy comes from Old French alquemie, alkimie, used in Medieval Latin as alchymia. Several etymologies have been proposed for the Greek term. The first was proposed by Zosimos of Panopolis 3rd-4th cent. CE , who derived it from the name of a book, the Khemeu.

The ancient Egyptian word referred to both the country and the colour "black" Egypt was the "Black Land", by contrast with the "Red Land", the surrounding desert ; so this etymology could also explain the nickname "Egyptian black arts".

History Edit Alchemy encompasses several philosophical traditions spanning some four millennia and three continents. One can distinguish at least three major strands, which appear to be largely independent, at least in their earlier stages: Chinese alchemy , centered in China and its zone of cultural influence; Indian alchemy , centered on the Indian subcontinent ; and Western alchemy, which occurred around the Mediterranean and whose center has shifted over the millennia from Greco-Roman Egypt , to the Islamic world , and finally medieval Europe.

Chinese alchemy was closely connected to Taoism and Indian alchemy with the Dharmic faiths , whereas Western alchemy developed its own philosophical system that was largely independent of, but influenced by, various Western religions. It is still an open question whether these three strands share a common origin, or to what extent they influenced each other.

Hellenistic Egypt Edit Ambix, cucurbit and retort of Zosimos , from Marcelin Berthelot , Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs 3 vol. The start of Western alchemy may generally be traced to ancient and Hellenistic Egypt , where the city of Alexandria was a center of alchemical knowledge, and retained its pre-eminence through most of the Greek and Roman periods.

The treatises of Zosimos of Panopolis , the earliest, historically-attested author fl. Zosimus based his work on that of older alchemical authors, such as Mary the Jewess , [21] Pseudo-Democritus , [22] and Agathodaimon , but very little is known about any of these authors. His name is derived from the god Thoth and his Greek counterpart Hermes. According to Clement of Alexandria , he wrote what were called the "forty-two books of Hermes", covering all fields of knowledge.

These writings were collected in the first centuries of the common era. Few original Egyptian documents on alchemy have survived, most notable among them the Stockholm papyrus and the Leyden papyrus X. According to Aristotle, each element had a sphere to which it belonged and to which it would return if left undisturbed. True alchemy never regarded earth, air, water, and fire as corporeal or chemical substances in the present-day sense of the word.

The four elements are simply the primary, and most general, qualities by means of which the amorphous and purely quantitative substance of all bodies first reveals itself in differentiated form. Alchemy coexisted alongside emerging Christianity. Lactantius believed Hermes Trismegistus had prophesied its birth. Others authors such as Komarios, and Chymes , we only know through fragments of text.

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