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Thrice Greatest Hermes -Vol3-Excerpts and Fragments

Thrice Greatest Hermes -Vol3-Excerpts and Fragments

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06/06/2013

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A further

scrap of information

concerning Bitys, how-

ever, may be

gleaned from Zosimus

( 8), when, speak-

ing of the

Logos, the Son of

God, pouring His

Light

JAMBLICHUS

295

into the soul and

starting it on its Eeturn Above, to

the Blessed

Region where it was before it had become

corporeal (as described in the

Trismegistic tractate,

entitled "

Concerning the Inner Door ") he writes :

"

And there shall it see the Picture

(TTIVGL^) that both

Bitos hath

described, and

thrice-greatest Plato, and ten-

thousand-times-great Hermes, for

Thoythos translated

it into the first sacred

tongue, Thoth the First

Man." 1

The

identity of

Bitys and Bitos is thus

unquestion-

able.2

Reitzenstein, however, asserts that neither of

these name-forms is

Egyptian, and therefore

approves

of the identification of our

Bitys with

"Pitys the

Thessalian "

of the

Papyri,3

as Dieterich has

suggested.

The

headings of the

fragments of the

writings of

Pitys

in the

Papyri run :

"

The

Way [or Method] of

Pitys

"

;

"Pitys to

King Ostanes

Greeting"; "The

Way of

Pitys the

King" ;

"

Of

Pitys the Thessalian."

From this Reitzenstein

(n. 2) concludes that

already

in the second and third centuries

(? A.D.) Pitys is

included

among the

prophetical theologi and

Magians.

What the

precise date of these

Papyri may be it is not

easy to determine, but, whether or not

they belong to

the second and third centuries, it is evident that

Pitys

was

regarded as ancient and a

contemporary of the

Magian Sage Ostanes.

King,4

referring to a

passage of the Elder

Pliny (Nat.

Hist., xxx.

4), which remarks on the

similarity of the

1

See notes

appended to the extract from Zosimus.

2

As has

already been

supposed by Hoffmann and Kiess in

Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyklopadie, i. 1347. R. 108.

3

Dieterich, Jahr.

f. Phil, Suppl., xvi. 753 ; Wessely, Denk-

schr. d. K. K. Akad.

(1888), pp. 92, 95, 98.

4

King (C. W.), The Gnostics and their

Remains, 2nd ed.

(London, 1887), p. 421, who, however, does not document his

statement.

296

THRICE-GREATEST HERMES

Magian Gnosis with the Druidical Gnosis of Gaul and

Britain, says :

"

Pliny by his '

Magica

'

understands the

rites instituted

by Zoroaster, and first

promulgated by

Osthanes to the outer world, this Osthanes

having been

1

military chaplain

'

to Xerxes

during his

expedition to

Greece."

This date, if we can

rely upon it, would take us back

to the Persian

Conquest of

Egypt, but what has a

Thessalian

Pitys to do with that ?

Curiously enough also

Pliny in his xxviiith Book

makes use of the

writings of a certain Bithus of

Dyrrachium, a

city on the coast of

Illyricum in the

Ionic Gulf, known in Grecian

history as

Epidamnus.

All of this is

puzzling enough; but whatever con-

clusions

may be drawn from the

evidence, the clearest

indication is that

Bitys was ancient, and therefore that

whatever

translating or rather "

interpreting

"

there

may have been, it was

probably from

hieroglyphic into

demotic, and the latter was

subsequently further

"

interpreted

"

into Greek.

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