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Echoes of Egypt in Hermes and Ficino

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Chapter Summary

This chapter identifies some concepts in Egyptian sources which reappear in the Corpus Hermeticum and the works of Ficino, especially in his correspondence, in his commentary on Plato's Symposium (De amore) and in his Three Books on Life (De vita libri tres). It focuses on some Egyptian parallels without postulating any unmediated debts or connections. The main concepts which seem to have counterparts in ancient Egyptian thought include the paramount concept of the One itself which nourishes the whole Cosmos and mysteriously is everything within the cosmos while not departing from its unity. The substantial influences upon the Corpus of other, non-Egyptian sources have been discussed and acknowledged, yet from the further evidence adduced by scholars in recent years it would seem that Ficino's insistence upon the existence of a prisca theologia going back into the remote Egyptian past may not have been so totally wide of the mark.

Keywords: Corpus Hermeticum; Hermes; Marsilo Ficino; Pharaonic Egypt; Plato's Symposium (De amore); prisca theologia



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