David Myatt

°°°°°

Swan Song Of A Mystic?

The latest effusion from Mr David Myatt, titled Some Questions For DWM 2017, is interesting for a variety of reasons not least of which is that it is permeated – as is his philosophy of pathei-mathos – with references to the classical culture of ancient Greece and Rome. It is also – perhaps unintentionally – revealing about Myatt’s character providing as it does facts about his life and how he now views his philosophy of pathei-mathos, which philosophy he has previously described as his weltanschauung, his own outlook on life.

The overall impression is of a man steeped in Western culture who is still ineluctably part of that culture but who – even though already withdrawn from the world – desires as a mystic might to cut what few ties still bind him to the world of vanity and materialism.

The Philosophy of Pathei Mathos

One of these ties appears to be his philosophy of pathei-mathos. This is a philosophy which is not only clearly pagan and part of the Western philosophical tradition {1} but also one which provides we Westerners with a cultured – a philosophical – paganism relevant to the modern world which is completely different from and even at odds with what has been termed both “contemporary paganism” and “neopaganism” with its invented rituals and ceremonies, its belief in and revival of ancient deities, and its lack of philosophical rigour. In effect, Myatt has continued, refined, and evolved the Western paganism – the ancient, the classical, paganism – evident in the works Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Cicero, the Corpus Hermeticum, and Marcus Aurelius, stripping away the old idea of gods and goddesses and replacing them with a modern mysticism centred around philosophical concepts such as Being and physis {2}, and virtues such as personal honour, pathei mathos, and empathy. Such a philosophical approach also conveniently does away – sans polemics – with conventional religions such as Christianity. {3}

Why then – given this gift to those seeking a Western alternative to the likes of Christianity who are unable to take “contemporary paganism” and “neopaganism” seriously – does Myatt in his latest effusion seem, as some have commented, to reject his own pagan philosophy? For among other things he writes,

“All that ‘philosophy’ seems to be to me now is a rather wordy and a rather egoistic, vainful, attempt to present what I (rightly or wrongly) believed I had learned about myself and the world as a result of various experiences.”

My own view is that he is not rejecting that philosophy, only moving on, as a composer of musical works – finding themselves unsatisfied with their creations – moves on to other things, to new compositions. In other words, Myatt is only re-expressing what he said some years ago, which was that the philosophy of pathei-mathos was

“simply my own weltanschauung, a weltanschauung developed over some years as a result of my own pathei-mathos. Thus, and despite whatever veracity it may or may not possess, it is only the personal insight of one very fallible individual.” {4}

In Myatt’s case he is simply moving on to concentrate on translations, and to live as his conscience dictates, or rather as his own pathei mathos informs him he should, which is life as a modern recluse and a learned mystic.

That he is not rejecting his own philosophy but instead is just not going to write anymore about it – or as he says, is not going to “pontificate” about it anymore – is evident in two of his replies. For in one reply he writes “I would suggest the tentative answers expressed by my weltanschauung,” while in another that such philosophical essays “can be, and in my case seem to have been, manifestations of vanity.”

But whether he will really write no more philosophical essays remains to be seen for there have been many writers, artists and musicians who, having forsworn their craft, nevertheless return to it at some stage.

A Western Heritage

In his latest effusion Myatt acknowledges his Western heritage, writing that as a schoolboy he read in Greek the likes of Thucydides, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and Herodotus, and in a rather remarkable admission that what he

“imbibed in those early years from such books of Ancient Hellas was nothing particularly philosophical but instead martial, and I could not but help admire those ‘thinking warriors’, those ‘perspicacious inventive gentlemen’ (περιφραδὴς ἀνήρ as Sophocles described them, cunning in inventive arts who arrive now with dishonour and then with honour, τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ ̓ἔχων τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ ̓ ἐπ ̓ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει) nurtured as I was then and had been for years by and in various colonies and outposts of what was still the British Empire. Thus it was natural that when, a short time later, I first learned about the Third Reich and about the loyalty of a soldier such as Otto Ernst Remer and the heroic actions of warriors such as Leon Degrelle I admired such men and intuited that something of the warrior ethos of ancient Hellas and Sparta may have manifested itself in our modern world.”

He also admits that

“some aspects of some of the tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum have influenced my thinking, just as Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Marcus Aurelius, and other classical and Hellenistic Greek and Latin writers have.”

That he does not mention any non-Western literature I find indicative.

Thus it is my view that Myatt – despite some of his past peregrinations or perhaps because of some of those peregrinations – is still rooted in and still contributing to the ethos of the West, a fact evident in his philosophy of pathei-mathos and also in his on-going translations of texts from the Corpus Hermeticum and his on-going translation of the Gospel of John, both of which are important for understanding the past and the current ethos of the West itself particularly as Myatt notes, in one of his replies, that his presumption is “of early Christianity probably being influenced by the diverse hermetic traditions which existed and flourished during the Hellenistic period.”

This rootedness in the culture of the West is also evident in another of his replies, with Myatt lamenting that

“for so many in the modern West there is no longer an ancestral culture of which one is a living, dwelling, part – a connexion between the past and the future and a connexion with a rural place of dwelling – and which culture preserves the slowly learned wisdom of the past.”

Like a few others, my view is that his philosophy of pathei-mathos as well as his translations provide some of the links we need to reconnect ourselves with our Western ancestral culture.

Rachael Stirling
August 2017

{1} See https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/a-modern-pagan-philosophy/
{2} In one of his replies Myatt writes that in his philosophy “the apparent parts of the unity are expressed by descriptors such as masculous and muliebral, with that unity – The One, μονάς – not designated by terms such as theos (God, god) or theoi (gods) but rather metaphysically, as Being and the emanations/effluvia of Being such as ourselves, Nature, and the Cosmos itself.”
{3} A detailed analysis of Myatt’s philosophy is given in the 2016 book The Mystic Philosophy Of David Myatt, which is available as a free download – https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/a-modern-mystic – and as a printed book, ISBN 978-1523930135
{4} The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis. The essay is in the 2014 compilation titled One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings.


In a recent article {1} David Myatt quotes from one Flavius Josephus, the much vaunted Jewish ‘historian’ who lived during the time of Vespasian, the Roman general whose son destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Myatt’s article reminded me of how unreliable Josephus is as an historical source, how boastful he was about himself, and how his writings (such as The Antiquities of the Jews, and The Jewish War) are still used as a reliable source by many authors.

Among the uncorroborated boasts of Josephus was his claim to be of “royal blood” and that he was so knowledgable at 14 years of age that High Priests and other influential people came to him for advice (The Life of Flavius Josephus, 1) . Other uncorroborated boasts are that during the Judean rebellion against Rome he was high-ranking military officer who was responsible for raising and training a large army and for fortifying cities, and that when the people of Jerusalem believed false rumors of his death they were all in morning for a month.

When what he writes can be checked with other historical accounts his errors are obvious. To present just four from dozens of examples. (1) Comparing the account of Josephus regarding the camp of Mithridates by the Nile (Antiquities, 14. 128-136) with the accounts of Cassius Dio (42.41ff), and of Alus Hirtius in De Bello Alexandrino (26ff) shows that Josephus got his facts wrong. (2) Comparing the account of Josephus regarding the expulsion of Hebrews (Antiquities, 12.414ff) with sources such as For Flaccus (28) by Cicero contradicts Josephus. (3) Josephus confuses the Persian Kings Darius the Second and Darius the Third. (4) Josephus (Antiquities, 168) claimed that Nehemiah travelled to Jerusalem in the 25th year of the reign of Xerxes despite the fact that the reign of Xerxes only lasted for 20 years.

In summary, because of his proven unreliability and his boasting Josephus comes across as someone repeating uncorroborated hearsay; as biased, and as self-serving. Someone, that is, who in this day and age would not – or who should not – be considered a reliable witness.

K.S.
2017

{1} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/a-note-on-the-term-jews-in-the-gospel-of-john/


numinous-religion

Another Iconoclastic Translation

Although David Myatt’s translation of the gospel of John from the Christian New Testament is a work-in-progress, sufficient has been released for a preliminary review. Thus far he has published the completed translation of the whole of chapters 1,2 and 3, which partial and regularly updated translation is available, as a pdf file, from The Gospel According To John.

To describe the translation as iconoclastic is something of an understatement. Perhaps more aptly it is heretical in the sense that Wycliffe’s 14th century and Luther’s 16th century translations were at the time considered by some to be heretical. To understand why it might be considered heretical, by mainstream Christians at least, we need to examine Myatt’s methodology.

Methodology

Myatt’s methodology is the same as that used in his translations of chapters from the Corpus Hermeticum which was written in the same Hellenistic Greek as the New Testament. His methodology is to use some transliterations – theos instead of god/God; phaos instead of light; and so on – and to find unusual English words for Greek terms which he considers are important to preserve the meaning current at the time the writings were composed. His reasoning is that particular English words – and angel, Word, spirit, prison, heaven, hour, and Jews, come to mind vis-a-vis the gospels – have acquired or now convey meanings which are not appropriate to the time of the gospels and which thus distort the text.

One very striking example is his translation of verse 24 of chapter 3. The King James Bible has “For John was not yet cast into prison.” All other English translations are similar. Myatt, however, has “And John had yet to be hurled into a guarded cage.”

In his commentary on this verse he writes,

βεβλημένος εἰς τὴν φυλακὴν. A phrase deserving some consideration, for φυλακή is not ‘prison’ as prisons are understood today and in the past few centuries but rather ‘a guarded cage’, with βεβλημένος εἰς implying a forceful ‘throwing’ or a hurling into such a cage.

A quick check of a dictionary of ancient Greek reveals that φυλάσσω – the origin of the term φυλακή – does mean “to keep guard” and figuratively, in the likes of Herodotus, implies a ‘cage’.

But possibly most controversial of all is his rejection of English terms such as Jews, angel and heaven. In place of Jews he has Judaeans, writing in a comment on chapter 1 verse 19,

After much consideration I have translated ἰουδαία not by the conventional term ‘Jews’ but rather by Judaeans, given (i) that the English terms Jews and Jewish (deriving from the 13th/14th century words gyv/gyw and Iewe) have acquired connotations (modern and medieval) which are not relevant to the period under consideration; and (ii) that the Greek term derives from a place name, Judaea (as does the Latin iudaeus); and (iii) that the Anglo-Saxon version (ASV) retains the sense of the Greek: here (iudeas) as elsewhere, as for example at 2.6, æfter iudea geclensunge, “according to Judaean cleansing.”

In a long and bound to be controversial comment on the term ‘heaven’ he writes,

Conventionally, οὐρανός here is always translated as ‘heaven’ although the term ‘heaven’ – used in the context of the Gospels – now has rather different connotations than the Greek οὐρανός, with the word ‘heaven’ now often implying something explained by almost two thousand years of exegesis and as depicted, for example, in medieval and Renaissance Christian art. However, those hearing or reading this particular Greek gospel for the first time in the formative years of Christianity would most probably have assumed the usual Greek usage of “the heavens” in the sense of the “the star-filled firmament above” or in the sense of “the sky” or as the abode of theos and/or of the gods (ἐν οὐρανῷ θεοί), an assumption consistent with the fact that the Evangelist explains and interprets certain non-Greek words (qv. the comment on 1.42) and considering also his use of a colloquial Greek expression (qv. the comment on 1.51).

It therefore seems apposite to suggest a more neutral word than ‘heaven’ as a translation of οὐρανός and one which might not only be understood in various ‘classical’ ways by an audience of Greek speakers (such as the ways described above) but also be open to a new, and Christian, interpretation consistent with the milieu that existed when the Gospel of John was written and first heard. That is, before the exegesis of later centuries and long before post-Roman Christian iconography. Hence my suggestion of the post-classical Latin term Empyrean, which can bear the interpretation of the abode of theos and/or of the gods, of “the sky”, of the “the star-filled firmament above; and a Christian one suggested by Genesis 2.8 – παράδεισον ἐν Εδεμ (the Paradise of Eden) – and also by shamayim, שָׁמַיִם

Which is why the standard translation of a verse such as chapter 1,19 – “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?” – is interpreted by Myatt as

For such was the evidence John gave when the Judaeans dispatched priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him: “Who are you?”

Heresy

His heretical interpretation is evident in so many passages it is difficult to pick out just one or two. But the following is a typical example, from chapter 3, verses 19-21, with Myatt pointing out in his commentary that in the gospel of John the phaos is identified as Jesus himself and thus is in the gospel of John a synonym for Jesus.

And this is the condemnation: That the Phaos arrived in the world but mortals loved the darkness more than the Phaos, for their deeds were harmful. For anyone who does what is mean dislikes the Phaos and does not come near the Phaos lest their deeds be exposed. But whomsoever practices disclosure goes to the Phaos so that their deeds might be manifest as having been done through Theos.

This is conventionally translated as “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

The effect of Myatt’s interpretation of the gospel is that it not only humanizes Jesus but also Christianity so that the message we apparently get is not of “fire and brimstone” – not of evil verses good, not of sin and the need to believe – but of what the likes of Julian of Norwich, George Fox and William Penn wrote and spoke of, and it is perhaps no coincidence that Myatt mentions those persons in the Preface to his translation.

Conclusion

As to whether Myatt’s translation, when completed, will find a niche is an interesting question given not just his iconoclastic methodology but also the esteem in which the gospels are held by Christians the vast majority of whom, were they to read his translation, would probably be offended by his interpretation.

As to when the translation will be completed, if the rate of updates is any guide it will be in about a year from now.

KS
June 2017


David Myatt

In the Spring of this year (2017) David Myatt released his versions – translations and commentaries – of several more Corpus Hermeticum texts to complement his existing, published, versions of tracts I, III, IV, VIII, XI {1}. The new additions were tracts VI, XII, and the Cantio Arcana part (sections 17 and 18) of tract XIII. {2}

The latest additions – bringing his translations of Hermetica texts to seven – follow the same methodology as previous versions. That is, his penchant for transliterating certain Greek words, his use of often unusual English words in place of the standard translations and meanings given in Greek-English lexicons such as LSJ {3}, and the terms and expressions he invents or digs up from usually very old books of English literature. All of which combine to make his translations idiosyncratic and remarkably different from all previous translations into English, antique and modern. To his credit, he explains in his commentary – sometimes in pedantic detail – his choices, citing his reasons and often providing some quotation in Greek, Latin, or English.

In regard to his translations of hermetic texts, this results in two things. In translations with a technical vocabulary relating to hermeticism, and in translations which transports the reader to an ancient world. Both of these combine to breathe new life into the texts and thence into hermeticism itself. Thus, far from, as Myatt writes in his introduction to tract VI, giving the impression “of reading somewhat declamatory sermons about god/God and ‘the good’ familiar from over a thousand years of persons preaching about Christianity,” the hermetic texts he has translated give the impression of reading about a pagan mysticism that most readers will probably be unfamiliar with.

Thus while other translators write moralistically about god, righteousness, truth, and ‘the good’, Myatt previews a world of divinities, of respecting the customs of the gods, of honesty, and nobility. A good example of the difference is in Myatt’s rendering of part of the Cantio Arcana. Copenhaver – who follows the proto-Christian interpretation of earlier translators and whose recent translations of the Corpus Hermeticum are regarded as “the definitive versions”, has:

“Holy knowledge, you enlightened me; through you, hymning the intellectual light, I take joy in the joy of Mind. Join me, all you powers, and sing me the hymn. You also, continence, sing me the hymn. My justice, through me hymn the just. My liberality, through me hymn the Universe. Truth, hymn the truth. Good, hymn the good.” (4}

Myatt has:

Numinous knowledge, from you a numinal understanding:
Through you, a song of apprehended phaos,
Delighted with delightful perceiverance.
Join me, all you Arts, in song.
You, mastery, sing; and you, respectful of custom,
Through me sing of such respect.
Sing, my companions, for All That Exists:
Honesty, through me, sing of being honest,
The noble, sing of nobility.

In Myatt’s version there are the two previously mentioned things. A technical vocabulary – such as numinal, phaos, perceiverance, Arts – requiring interpretation, and nothing reminiscent of Christianity, such as ‘hymn’ and ‘holy’ and being ‘good’. As Myatt writes in his commentary on the Cantio Arcana in respect of his use of the terms song, honesty and Arts:

Song. ὕμνος. Not a ‘hymn’ in the Christian sense (which the word hymn now so often imputes) but rather celebrating the numinous, and theos, in song, verse (ode), and chant.

Honesty. ἀλήθεια. Given that those who are urged to sing are personifications, this is not some abstract, disputable, ‘truth’ but as often elsewhere in classical literature, a revealing, a dis-covering, of what is real as opposed to what is apparent or outer appearance. In personal terms, being honest and truthful.

Arts. As at Poemandres 31 – which is also a traditional doxology (δοξολογία) to theos – the sense of δυνάμεων [here] is not ‘powers’, forces (or something similar and equally at variance with such a laudation) but ‘arts’; that is, particular abilities, qualities, and skills. Here, these abilities and skills – the craft – relate to esoteric song; to be able to be an effective laudator in respect of theos and “every Physis of Kosmos.”

His reference to every Physis of Kosmos is to the beginning of the ode:

Let every Physis of Kosmos favourably listen to this song
πᾶσα φύσις κόσμου προσδεχέσθω τοῦ ὕμνου τὴν ἀκοήν

which Copenhaver translates as “let every nature in the cosmos attend to the hearing of this hymn.”

The commentaries which accompany the translations deserve a mention. Each of them not only occupies far more pages than the actual translation but they reveal the author as erudite with pages of quotations from ancient Greek and Latin works – for most of which Myatt provides his own translation – and the occasional quotation from English literature. In the case of English literature usually to explain the meaning of the unusual English words of phrases he uses, quoting the likes of Chaucer, Coleridge, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Chapman, and others.

        In effect what Myatt does in his translations is paint of picture of classical – and of Hellenic – culture and especially of Hellenic mysticism; a culture and a mysticism which is pagan and based on individuals, on tangible things such as honesty, and not on moralistic and religious and impersonal abstractions. That is, he reveals the Greco-Roman ethos – the pagan ethos – underlying the hermetic texts and which is in contrast to that of Christianity with its later, medieval and Puritanical, impersonal moralizing. He incidently leaves us with an interesting question. Which is whether such pagan Hellenic mysticism influenced Christianity in a positive way. In academia the assumption has always been that Christianity and earlier Judaic monotheism influenced hermeticism despite the fact of evidence from papyrus fragments indicating the opposite and despite the fact that the earliest texts of the Old Testament were written in Greek and not in Hebrew. {5}

Myatt himself is of the opinion that parts of ancient Greek mysticism and cosmogony – as described for instance in tract III of the Corpus Hermeticum – have influenced both Judaism and Christianity. {6}

Such controversial matters aside, his translations of tracts from the Corpus Hermeticism are decidedly iconoclastic and – when compared to those of other translators such as Copenhaver – idiosyncratic and as such are not and probably never will be mainstream at least in academia. They may therefore never gain widespread acceptance among established academics. Does that matter? Probably not because his actual and potential audience is much greater. Which audience is of those interested in Western mysticism, in Western paganism, and in Greco-Roman culture in general, and for such interested parties Myatt has done a great service since he places the hermetic texts firmly into those milieux.

One other thing about the translations and commentaries deserves a mention. As well a being available in printed form he has not only made all of them available as free downloads from the internet {7} but also issued them under a liberal Creative Commons license which allows others to freely copy and distribute them.

Rachael Stirling
Shropshire
2017

{1} D. Myatt. Corpus Hermeticum I, III, IV, VIII, XI. 2017. ISBN 978-1545020142
{2} Tracts VI, XII, and the Cantio Arcana, are available at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/tractates-vi-xii-v3.pdf [Accessed May 2017].
{3} H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, H. S. Jones. A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1996.
{4} B. Copenhaver. Hermetica. Cambridge University Press. 1992.
{5} The earliest written texts of the Old Testament – papyrus fragments found in Egypt – are in Hellenistic Greek and date from around 250 BCE and precede by over a century the earliest fragments written in Hebrew (some of the Dead Sea Scrolls) which date from 150 BCE to around 50 BCE.
{6} See Myatt’s introduction to his translation of tract III.
{7} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/corpus-hermeticum/


David Myatt
David Myatt: Corpus Hermeticum XII
Translation and Commentary
(pdf)

The pdf document above contains David Myatt’s completed translation of and commentary on tractate XII of the Corpus Hermeticum.


Source:https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/corpus-hermeticum-tractate-xii/


clytemnestra_kills_cassandrared_figure-c-430bce

Text

ἀθάνατοι θνητοί, θνητοὶ ἀθάνατοι, ζῶντες τὸν ἐκεί­νων θάνατον, τὸν δὲ ἐκείνων βίον τεθνεῶτες. (Fragment 62, Diels-Krantz)

Translation

The deathless are deathful, the deathful deathless, with one living the other’s dying with the other dying in that other’s life.

Notes

° deathless…deathful. For these in respect of ἀθάνατος and θνητὸς qv. my commentary [1] on Poemandres 14, tractate VIII:1, and tractate XI:7ff. As noted in the commentary on Poemandres 14, the English terms are taken from Chapman’s poetic translation of the Hymn to Venus from the Homeric Hymns: “That with a deathless goddess lay a deathful man.”

° There is some similarity between this fragment and what the Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων says in the first section of tractate XII of the Corpus Hermeticum:

καὶ γὰρ ὁ Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς εἶπεν ἀθανάτους, τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους θεοὺς θνητούς

For the noble daimon spoke of deities as deathless mortals and of mortals as deathful deities.

David Myatt
2017

°°°
[1] Myatt, David. Corpus Hermeticum I, III, IV, VIII, XI. 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1545020142

Article Source:

https://perceiverations.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/heraclitus-fragment-62/

°°°°°

Image credit: Klytemnestra Kills Cassandra. Red figure vase, c 430 BCE


David Myatt

In his most recent article, published on his blog on the 24th of March 2017 and dealing as it does with the ancient texts of the Corpus Hermeticum {1}, David Myatt expounds on his decision to translate the ancient Greek term ἀγαθός not by the conventional English term ‘good’ but by – according to context – honourable, noble, nobility. In support of his translation of ἀγαθός he quotes Seneca: “summum bonum est quod honestum est. Et quod magis admireris: unum bonum est, quod honestum est, cetera falsa et adulterina bona sunt.” {2}

This choice – and his unconventional translations of other particular ancient Greek words such as νοῦς – really does give, as he notes in his article, an “impression about ancient Hermeticism which is rather different from that conveyed by other translations.”

The difference, as other commentators on Myatt’s Hermetica translations have noted {3} and as Myatt shows in his article, is between taking those texts as expressing a Christian ethos and taking them as expressing a pagan – a classical, Greco-Roman – ethos.

For those interested in Western esotericism in general and Hermeticism in particular this is a profound and important difference. It restores these texts to the Western pagan tradition and makes them relevant to our times when Western culture and our classical, Greco-Roman, and pagan heritage is increasingly subsumed in schools and elsewhere by other, non-Western, cultures and religions, with it now being ‘politically incorrect’ to point out that Western culture with its Greco-Roman pagan heritage has profoundly changed the world for the better and is arguably superior to all other cultures past and present.

Although Myatt in his article provides three illuminating examples of the difference between his ‘pagan’ (authentic) versions and the ‘Christian’ interpolations of other translators, I will provide two other examples.

The first is from tract XI which Myatt entitles From Perceiverance To Hermes.

“Indulging the body and rotten, you are unable to apprehend the beautiful, the noble. To be completely rotten is to be unaware of the numinous, while having the ability to discover, to have volition, to have expectations, is the direct, the better – its own – way to nobility.”

Copenhaver, hitherto extolled as providing the ‘definitive translation’, has:

“While you are evil and a lover of the body, you can understand none of the things that are beautiful and good. To be ignorant of the divine is the ultimate vice, but to be able to know, to will and to hope is the straight and easy way leading to the good.” {4}

The second example is from tract IV, which Myatt entitles Chaldron Or Monas.

Since that Being is honourable, the desire was to entrust solely to that Being such a cosmic order on Earth […] What is apparent can please us while what is concealed can cause doubt with what is bad often overt while the honourable is often concealed having as it has neither pattern nor guise.

Copenhaver translates as:

“Because he is good it was not for himself alone that he wished to make this offering and adorn this earth […] Visible things delight us but the invisible causes mistrust. Bad things are more open to sight but the good is invisible to what can be seen. For the good has neither shape nor outline.”

It is easy to see which translation echoes a pagan ethos – as the likes of Seneca and Cicero understood classical paganism – and which is redolent of a Christian or a pseudo-Christian ethos.

In summary, Myatt in his translations of five of the texts of the Corpus Hermeticum provides the ordinary reader with an insight into a neglected Western mystic tradition. A neglected tradition because all the other translations available impart – in Myatt’s words – “the sense of reading somewhat declamatory sermons about god/God and ‘the good’ familiar from over a thousand years of persons preaching about Christianity.”

Richard Stirling
Shropshire
2017

{1} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/concerning-ἀγαθός-and-νοῦς-in-the-corpus-hermeticum/
{2} Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales, LXXI, 4.
{3} https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/a-review-of-myatts-monas/
{4} B. Copenhaver. Hermetica. Cambridge University Press. 1992


David Myatt

David Myatt

Three of the many Greek terms of interest in respect of understanding the varied weltanschauungen outlined in the texts that comprise the Corpus Hermeticum are ἀγαθός and νοῦς and θεός, with conventional translations of these terms as ‘good’ and ‘Mind’ and ‘god’ (or God) imparting the sense of reading somewhat declamatory sermons about god/God and ‘the good’ familiar from over a thousand years of persons preaching about Christianity interspersed with definitive philosophical statements about ‘Mind’, as if a “transcendent intelligence, rationality,” or a “Mental or psychic faculty” or both, or something similar, is meant or implied.

Thus the beginning of tractate VI – τὸ ἀγαθόν, ὦ ᾿Ασκληπιέ, ἐν οὐδενί ἐστιν, εἰ μὴ ἐν μόνῳ τῷ θεῷ, μᾶλλον δὲ τὸ ἀγαθὸν αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ θεὸς ἀεί – and dealing as it does with both ἀγαθός and θεός, has been translated, by Mead, as “Good, O Asclepius, is in none else save God alone; nay, rather, Good is God Himself eternally,” [1] and by Copenhaver as “The good, Asclepius, is in nothing except in god alone, or rather god himself is always the good.” [2]

In respect of νοῦς, a typical example is from Poemandres 12 – ὁ δὲ πάντων πατὴρ ὁ Νοῦς, ὢν ζωὴ καὶ φῶς, ἀπεκύησεν ῎Ανθρωπον αὐτῷ ἴσον, οὗ ἠράσθη ὡς ἰδίου τόκου· περικαλλὴς γάρ, τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς εἰκόνα ἔχων· ὄντως γὰρ καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἠράσθη τῆς ἰδίας μορφῆς, παρέδωκε τὰ ἑαυτοῦ πάντα δημιουργήματα. The beginning of this is translated by Mead as “But All-Father Mind, being Life and Light, did bring forth Man co-equal to Himself, with whom He fell in love, as being His own child for he was beautiful beyond compare,” and by Copenhaver as “Mind, the father of all, who is life and light, gave birth to a man like himself whom he loved as his own child. The man was most fair: he had the father’s image.”

Similarly, in respect of Poemandres 22 – παραγίνομαι αὐτὸς ἐγὼ ὁ Νοῦς τοῖς ὁσίοις καὶ ἀγαθοῖς καὶ καθαροῖς καὶ ἐλεήμοσι, τοῖς εὐσεβοῦσι, καὶ ἡ παρουσία μου γίνεται βοήθεια, καὶ εὐθὺς τὰ πάντα γνωρίζουσι καὶ τὸν πατέρα ἱλάσκονται ἀγαπητικῶς καὶ εὐχαριστοῦσιν εὐλογοῦντες καὶ ὑμνοῦντες τεταγμένως πρὸς αὐτὸν τῇ στοργῇ – which is translated by Mead as “I, Mind, myself am present with holy men and good, the pure and merciful, men who live piously. [To such] my presence doth become an aid, and straightway they gain gnosis of all things, and win the Father’s love by their pure lives, and give Him thanks, invoking on Him blessings, and chanting hymns, intent on Him with ardent love,” and by Copenhaver as “I myself, the mind, am present to the blessed and good and pure and merciful – to the reverent – and my presence becomes a help; they quickly recognize everything, and they propitiate the father lovingly and give thanks, praising and singing hymns affectionately and in the order appropriate to him.”

As explained in various places in my commentary on tractates I, III, IV, VIII, and XI, and in two appendices [3], I incline toward the view that – given what such English terms as ‘the good’, Mind, and god now impute, often as a result of two thousand years of Christianity and post-Renaissance, and modern, philosophy – such translations tend to impose particular and modern interpretations on the texts and thus do not present to the reader the ancient ethos that forms the basis of the varied weltanschauungen outlined in the texts of the Corpus Hermeticum.

To avoid such impositions, and in an endeavour to express at least something of that ancient (and in my view non-Christian) ethos, I have – for reasons explained in the relevant sections of my commentary – transliterated θεὸς as theos [4], νοῦς as perceiveration, or according to context, perceiverance; and ἀγαθός as, according to context, nobility, noble, or honourable [5]. Which is why my reading of the Greek of the three examples above provides the reader with a somewhat different impression of the texts:

° Asclepius, the noble exists in no-thing: only in theos alone; indeed, theos is, of himself and always, what is noble. [6]

° Perceiveration, as Life and phaos, father of all, brought forth in his own likeness a most beautiful mortal who, being his child, he loved.

° I, perceiveration, attend to those of respectful deeds, the honourable, the refined, the compassionate, those aware of the numinous; to whom my being is a help so that they soon acquire knowledge of the whole and are affectionately gracious toward the father, fondly celebrating in song his position.

But, as I noted in respect of ἀγαθός in the On Ethos And Interpretation appendix, whether these particular insights of mine are valid, others will have to decide. But they – and my translations of the tractates in general – certainly, at least in my fallible opinion, convey an impression about ancient Hermeticism which is rather different from that conveyed by other translations.

David Myatt
March 2017

Extract from a letter in reply to a correspondent who, in respect of the Corpus Hermeticum, enquired about my translation of terms such as ἀγαθός and νοῦς. I have, for publication here, added a footnote which references my translations of and commentaries on five tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum.

°°°

Notes

[1] G.R.S Mead. Thrice-Greatest Hermes. Theosophical Society (London). 1906.

[2] B. Copenhaver. Hermetica. Cambridge University Press. 1992

[3] My translation of and commentary on tractates I, III, IV, and XI – and the two appendices – is available in pdf format at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/corpus-hermeticum-i-iii-iv-xi/

My translation of and commentary on tractate VIII is available in pdf format at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/corpus-hermeticum-viii/

[4] To be pedantic, when θεὸς is mentioned in the texts it often literally refers to ‘the’ theos so that at the beginning of tractate VI, for example, the reference is to ‘the theos’ rather than to ‘god’.

[5] In respect of ‘the good’ – τὸ ἀγαθόν – as ‘honourable’, qv. Seneca, Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales, LXXI, 4, “summum bonum est quod honestum est. Et quod magis admireris: unum bonum est, quod honestum est, cetera falsa et adulterina bona sunt.”

[6] The suggestion seems to be that ‘the theos’ is the origin, the archetype, of what is noble, and that only through and because of theos can what is noble be presenced and recognized for what it is, and often recognized by those who are, or that which is, an eikon of theos. Hence why in tractate IV it is said that “the eikon will guide you,”; why in tractate XI that “Kosmos is the eikon of theos, Kosmos [the eikon] of Aion, the Sun [the eikon] of Aion, and the Sun [the eikon] of mortals,” and why in the same tractate it is said that “there is nothing that cannot be an eikon of theos,” and why in Poemandres 31 theos is said to “engender all physis as eikon.”

As I noted in my commentary – qv. especially the mention of Maximus of Constantinople in respect of Poemandres 31 – I have transliterated εἰκὼν.


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/concerning-ἀγαθός-and-νοῦς-in-the-corpus-hermeticum/


Order of Nine Angles

O9A

O9A: Notes On The Corpus Hermeticum
(pdf)

From the Introduction:

Given renewed interest among certain Occultists in the ancient texts of the Corpus Hermeticum following David Myatt’s translations and commentaries on five of the texts it seems timely to provide an overview of the Corpus Hermeticism, particularly as it has been suggested that:

“If many MSS of the Order of Nine Angles are vital to acquire a certain understanding or at the very least, presence through words what a practical life and wyrdful ἄνοδος can bring, the Corpus Hermeticum is, in itself, sufficient to make sense of the Order of Nine Angles quiddity as a whole.”


David Myatt

David Myatt

David Myatt’s translation of and commentary on tractate VIII of the ancient, Hellenic, Corpus Hermeticum is available here:

Corpus Hermeticum – Tractate VIII
(pdf)

This complements his translation of and commentary on tractates I, III, IV, and XI.


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/corpus-hermeticum-viii/