Hermes Trismegistus in cultural and religion space of Slavia Orthodoxa: written tradition

Vitalii Shchepanskyi


The appearance of the first Hermes Trismegistus’ texts in cultural space «Slavia Orthodoxa» falls on XV century: in Serbian literature Konstantin Filozof’s «Žitije despota Stefana Lazarevića» (Vita of Despot Stefan Lazarević) and in old Ukrainian “Palais Krekhivsky” described by Ivan Franko. Serbian version contains only few lines, but Ukrainian includes individual and very complete section on Hermes Trismegistus’ life. It provides the information on the origin of Hermes, on the story of his father, and on his studying of secret alchemical knowledge in Egypt. Separately is Hermes understanding of the Trinity divine nature allocated.

Orthodox literature of XV century is mostly apophatic. Following the Christian thought of first centuries, which in the face of pseudo-Dionysius Aeropahit stated, that the description accuracy of God is in denial terms only and that our language is not developed enough to express the divine essence. Such statements can be found in the Slavic texts of Hermes. God’s Hermes nature is also stated in apophatic style that is consistent to intellectual atmosphere of Orthodox Slavs. So the scribes were able to tailor the Hermetism founder’s image to their needs, concerning questions on the nature of the Holy Trinity being. In general, it did not contradict to Hermetism, which believes that the more there are meanings contradict to each other, the more obscure the words are used, the more expressed is shown in confusing characters, the more they are suitable to describe the Absolute.


hermetism; Slavia Orthodoxa; Hermes Trismegistus; alchemy


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