Hermes Trismegistus in the Duomo

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“Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus depicted on the floor of Siena’s Duomo (Tuscany, Italy). This work is attributed to Giovanni di Stefano and dates back to 1488. The title block below Hermes’ feet calls him “Hermis Mercurius Trimegistus contemporaneus Moysi” (Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, a contemporary of Moses). The two men to whom Hermes gives a book are probably the Western and Eastern sages and are represented as receiving the divine gnosis from Hermes. On the sign against which Hermes is leaning we can read: “Deus omnium creator secum Deum fecit visibilem et hunc fecit primum et solum quo oblectatus est et valde amavit proprium filium qui appellatur Sanctum Verbum” (And God, creator of all things, from Himself generated a visible God and this was the first and only in whom He was delighted and strongly loved His own Son who is called Holy Word). This quotation mixes together several passages from the Corpus Hermeticum, and especially the first book of it, called “Pimander”, which had been translated into Latin by Marsilio Ficino. On the pages of the book we can read: “suscipite o licteras et leges egiptii” (Egyptians, receive the letters and the laws!), which refers to Hermes’ role as inventor of writing, the arts, and legislation.”

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