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Preface from the book ‘The way of Hermes’ by Gilles Quispel

In the year 1460 a monk brought a Greek manuscript to Florence. The monk, Leonardeo of Pistoia , was one of the agents that the city ruler, Cosimo de’ Medici, had sent to scour Europe’s monasteries for gotten writings of the ancients, and what he now brought his patron was a codex containing fourteen treatesis attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, an ancient Egyptian sage. This work’s arrival caused a great stir, because Hermes, identified with the Ibis god Thoth, was held to be older than Plato and Moses and the underlying inspiration of all philosophy and religion that followed him. Cosimo immediately instructed his scholar Marsilio Ficino to suspend his project of translating the dialogues of the divine Plato so that he might undertake a traqnslation of this even more significant work.  Continue reading