The Arabic Hermes: From Pagan Sage to Prophet of Science
This is the first major study devoted to the early Arabic reception and adaption of the figure of Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary Egyptian sage to whom were ascribed numerous works on astrology, alchemy, talismans, medicine, and philosophy. Before the more famous Renaissance European reception of the ancient Greek Hermetica, the Arabic tradition about Hermes and the works under his name had been developing and flourishing for seven hundred years. The legendary Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus was renowned in Roman antiquity as an ancient sage whose teachings were represented in books of philosophy and occult science. The works in his name, written in Greek by Egyptians living under Roman rule, subsequently circulated in many languages and regions of the Roman and Sasanian Persian empires. After the rise of Arabic as a prestigious language of scholarship in the eighth century, accounts of Hermes identity and Hermetic texts were translated into Arabic along with the hundreds of other works translated from Greek, Middle Persian, and other literary languages of antiquity. Hermetica were in fact among the earliest translations into Arabic, appearing already in the eighth century. This book explains the origins of the Arabic myth of Hermes Trismegistus, its sources, the reasons for its peculiar character, and its varied significance for the traditions of Hermetica in Asia and northern Africa as well as Europe. It shows who pre-modern Arabic scholars thought Hermes was and how they came to that view.
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Abbāsid ābit Abū Ma<šar Agathodaemon al-Bīrūnī al-Kindī al-Mas<u-dı al-Mubaššir alchemy Alexander Ammon Annianus antediluvian appears Arabic Hermetic Arabic Hermetica Arabic literature Arabic translation Aramaic Aristotle Asclepius astrological attributed to Hermes authors Babylonian Baġdād caliph Christian chronicle chronographic Chwolsohn citation cited claim Corpus Hermeticum derived discussion doctrines Dorotheus early edition Egypt Egyptian Enoch evidence Fihrist Fowden Greek Corpus Hermeticum Greek Hermetica Gutas Harrān Harrānian Harrānian Sābians heavenly ascent Hermes Trismegistus Hermetic Hermetic text Ibn Gˇulgˇul Ibn Nawbaxt Idrīs Iran Iranian Islam Ismā<īlī Jacob of Edessa king Kitāb at-Tuffāha known language later Latin legend Manetho Manichaeans manuscript mentioned Middle Persian Muhammad Muntaxab Muslims Numayrid original Ostanes pagans Panodorus passage Persian Empire philosophers Pingree Plato prophet Qur>ān reference religion Roman Rosenthal Sābians sages Šāpu-r Sasanian sayings of Hermes scholars Siwān al-hikma story surviving Syncellus Syriac Tardieu tenth century tradition trans wisdom words