(ASCRIBED TO HERMES TRISMEGISTUS.)
Art thou ignorant, Asklepios, (1) that Egypt is the image of Heaven, or what is more true, a translation and descent of all things which are governed and performed in heaven? And, if it is to be said more truly, our land is the temple of the whole world. Nevertheless, as it is proper for the prudent to foreknow all things, it is not right for you to be ignorant. A time is about to come when it may appear that the Egyptians in vain have served the Divinity with a pious mind and unceasing devotion, and that all their holy veneration shall become useless and of no effect. For Divinity is about to return from the earth to heaven. Egypt will be forsaken, and the land which was the seat of Divinity shall be bereft of its religion and deprived of the presence of the superior races.
For strangers shall fill this region and country, and there will be not only a neglect of religious rites, but what is worse, a prohibition with prescribed punishment will be enacted for religion, piety and the divine worship. Thus this land, the most holy seat of shrines and temples, will be very full of sepulchres and of the dead.
O Egypt, Egypt, fables alone shall remain of thy religious traditions, and these incredible to their successors, and only work engraved in stone shall survive narrating thy pious deeds. The Skyth, the Indian or some such people will dwell in Egypt. For the Divinity shall return to heaven, and all the people will die, and so Egypt will be bereft of god and human being.
River truly most holy, I call to thee, and predict to thee what is about to take place. Thou shalt break forth with a torrent of blood, full even to thy banks, and thy divine waves shall not only be polluted with blood, but all shall be destroyed and the dead shall be more in number than the living. Whoever shall be remaining shall be known as an Egyptian by his language only, while he shall seem an alien by his actions.
Why art thou weeping, Asklepios? Greater things than these and much more grievous shall Egypt undergo, and with far worse evils shall she be afflicted; and she that was anciently holy and most beloved by the gods in the earth for her religious merit, the sole leader of holiness and chief in piety will be an example of the greatest cruelty.
And then, through the very weariness of men, the order of things in the world shall seem no more to be admired nor a thing to be adored. The entire good, a better than which never was nor is nor will be seen, will be in peril, and will be burdensome to human beings. The whole order of things, the immutable work of God, a glorious structure, a good composed of a multiform variety of images, a mechanism of the will of God, who in his work did voluntarily all things as one, will be held in contempt and be no more esteemed. It is a many-formed mass combined together, to be revered, praised and loved by all who behold it. For darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be judged more useful than life. No one will look up to heaven. The conscientious man will be thought insane, the unscrupulous one wise, the blusterer brave and the wickedest one will be held the good man. For the soul and all about it by which it is by its nature immortal or is conceived to be able to attain immortality, as I have explained the matter to you, will not only be a subject to be laughed at, but it will be considered a frivolous affair.
But believe me likewise, that a capital danger will be impending for him who shall give himself to the religion of the Soul. New statutes, a new law, will be made that nothing sacred, nothing religious or worthy of the celestial beings, shall be heeded or believed. There will take place a woeful departing of the gods from human beings; only messengers of harm will remain, who being commingled with human nature will compel the wretched ones to war, to rapine, to fraud, and to all things which are contrary to the nature of souls.
Then the land will not be stable, nor will the sea be navigated, nor will the sky be accordant with the course of the stars, nor the course of the stars accordant in the sky. Every divine voice will be mute by a necessary silence, the fruits of the earth will be corrupted, the soil will not be prolific, and the air itself will languish with gloomy torpidity.
Then shall come these events, such an old age of the world, irreligion, disorder, and want of reason about everything good.
When all these things shall befall, Asklepios, then the Lord and Father, God first in power, and the One Governor of the Universe, giving attention to the morals and voluntary actions, by his own will which is the divine benignity, resisting vices, and recalling the error arising from the corruptibility of all things, either washing away all evil by a flood or consuming it by fire, or bringing it to an end by disease and pestilence scattered over different places, will call back the world to its ancient form, that the order of things may be seen to be itself to be adored and admired, and that God the Creator and Restorer of so great a work shall be celebrated by all who shall then exist with frequent invocations of praise and with benedictions.
For this generation of the world is a forming anew of all good things and the most holy and most sacred institutions of its very being, the course of Time having been accomplished which is sempiternal and was without beginning. For the will of God is without beginning, is always the same and is everywhere sempiternal.
1. Asklepios or Esculapios is virtually the same as Hermes. (return to text)