The Light of Hermes Trismegistus: New Translations of Seven Essential Hermetic Texts
A presentation of seven essential texts, central to the Hermetic Tradition, never before published together
• Includes Theogony, The Homeric Hymn to Hermes, The Poem of Parmenides, The Poimandres, The Chaldean Oracles, Hymn to Isis, and On Divine Virtue, each translated from the original Greek or Latin
• Presents interpretive commentary for each text to progressively weave them together historically, poetically, hermeneutically, and magically
Linked to both the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth, Hermes Trismegistus is credited, through legend, with thousands of mystical and philosophical writings of high standing, each reputed to be of immense antiquity. During the Renaissance, a collection of such writings known as the Corpus Hermeticum greatly inspired the thought of philosophers, alchemists, artists, poets, and even theologians.
Offering new translations of seven essential Hermetic texts from their earliest source languages, Charles Stein presents them alongside introductions and interpretive commentary, revealing their hidden gems of insight, suggesting directions for practice, and progressively weaving the texts together historically, poetically, hermeneutically, and magically. The book includes translations of Hesiod’s Theogony, the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, the “Poem of Parmenides,” the Poimandres from the Corpus Hermeticum, the Chaldean Oracles, “The Vision of Isis” from Apuleius’s Metamorphoses, and “On Divine Virtue” by Zosimos of Panopolis.
Through his introductions and commentaries, Stein explains how the many traditions that use Hermes’s name harbor a coherent spirit whose relevance and efficacy promise to carry Hermes forward into the future.
Revealing Hermes as the very principle of Mind in all its possibilities, from intellectual brilliance to the workings of the cognitive life of everyone, the author shows how these seven texts are central to a still-evolving Western tradition in which the principle of spiritual awakening is allied with the creative. Never before published together, these texts present a new vehicle for transmission of the Hermetic Genius in modern times.
Praise for The Light of Hermes Trismegistus: New Translations of Seven Essential Hermetic Texts
“I have to go back forty years to Stanley Lombardo’s pitch-perfect renderings of Parmenides and Empedocles to match Stein’s resourceful lucidity and poetic nimbleness. His commentaries are rigorous and impeccable, and the translations are an exaltation unto themselves. Stein has sounded the depths. These are more than documents, they are vitalities.”
— Jed Rasula, Helen S. Lanier Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Georgia, Athens
“In alignment with the spirits of Thomas Taylor and G. R. S. Mead, Charles Stein has devoted decades to a meticulous deep reading and research of the works collected now in The Light of Hermes Trismegistus, and the translations that have resulted are highly considered, musical, and shapely. We are thrice blessed with Stein’s illuminating, fresh, and detailed commentary and his offering of a profound and original philosophical view of a possible past, present, and future of the Hermetic texts.”
— Kimberly Lyons, author of Capella
“Charles Stein’s translations from the Hermetic tradition have the wildness and directness of great poetry, the precision and depth of profound philosophical inquiry, and the spiritual intensity and devotion that only comes from practice and experience in a number of sacred traditions.”
— Marcus Boon, author of In Praise of Copying
“This collection and commentary delivers what only the right poet’s translation can: it recovers the vital Western sources of Being in a poiesis true to our moment in time. ‘The text itself is the secret,’ as Stein takes from Henry Corbin, and here in these sacred renderings the secret is: the text itself is Hermes--for our eyes now.”
— George Quasha, poet, artist, writer, and copublisher of Station Hill Press
“In this embarrassment of riches, Charles Stein’s electrifying translation of Parmenides is alone worth the price of admission, but there is so much more. The generous essays following each work--taking us along a deep journey into their unique poetic value--make his brilliant translations stand out all the more. While there is a certain irony in calling this a timely book, Stein offers us the kind of knowledge we should be hungering for.”
— Ammiel Alcalay, author of After Jews and Arabs and editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document
"Hermes Trismegistus is at once an energetic deity in ancient mythology and an enigmatic figure credited with writing a body of texts in the ancient world. This book presents newly translated texts that translator Charles Stein subsequently explores for connections and ideas relevant to contemporary times. Highly recommended as an unusual grouping of Hermetic texts as well as a source of contemplations on those texts for more advanced readers."
— Elizabeth Hazel, FacingNorth.net
“Charles Stein’s translations are an activation within the history of magic and the magic of historiography. In his hands these esoteric works are not mere artifacts but living things that maintain a vital charge made easily accessible within anyone’s open ‘poetic wallet.’ This anthology’s purse ultimately is a vast portmanteau of the Hermetic treasure house that delivers inspiriting news renewed and unpacked with each reading.”
— Robert Podgurski, author of The Sacred Alignments and Sigils