Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Porphyry
Pages of On Images

Previous | Next

On Images   

"Hesper, the fairest star that shines in heaven." [Homer, Iliad 22:318]
And Eros they set by her because of desire. She veils her breasts
and other parts, because their power is the source of generation and
nourishment. She comes from the sea, a watery element, and warm, and
in constant movement, and foaming because of its commotion, whereby
they intimate the seminal power.
Hermes is the representative of reason and speech, which both accomplish
and interpret all things. The phallic Hermes represents vigour, but
also indicates the generative law that pervades all things.
Further, reason is composite: in the sun it is called Hermes; in the
moon Hecate; and that which is in the All Hermopan, for the generative
and creative reason extends over all things. Hermanubis also is composite,
and as it were half Greek, being found among the Egyptians also. Since
speech is also connected with the power of love, Eros represents this
power: wherefore Eros is represented as the son of Hermes, but as
an infant, because of his sudden impulses of desire.
They made Pan the symbol of the universe, and gave him his horns as
symbols of sun and moon, and the fawn skin as emblem of the stars
in heaven, or of the variety of the universe.
Fragment 10
The Demiurge, whom the Egyptians call Cneph, is of human form, but
with a skin of dark blue, holding a girdle and a sceptre, and crowned
with a royal wing on his head, because reason is hard to discover,
and wrapt up in secret, and not conspicuous, and because it is life-giving,
and because it is a king, and because it has an intelligent motion:
wherefore the characteristic wing is put upon his head.
This god, they say, puts forth from his mouth an egg, from which is
born a god who is called by themselves Phtha, but by the Greeks Hephaestus;
and the egg they interpret as the world. To this god the sheep is
consecrated, because the ancients used to drink milk.
The representation of the world itself they figured thus: the statue
is like a man having feet joined together, and clothed from head to
foot with a robe of many colours, and has on the head a golden sphere,
the first to represent its immobility, the second the many-coloured
nature of the stars, and the third because the world is spherical.
The sun they indicate sometimes by a man embarked on a ship, the ship
set on a crocodile. And the ship indicates the sun's motion in a liquid
element: the crocodile potable water in which the sun travels. The
figure of the sun thus signified that his revolution takes place through
air that is liquid and sweet.
The power of the earth, both the celestial and terrestrial earth,
they called Isis, because of the equality, which is the source of
justice: but they call the moon the celestial earth, and the vegetative
earth, on which we live, they call the terrestrial.
Demeter has the same meaning among the Greeks as Isis amongs the Egyptians:
and, again, Kore and Dionysus among the Greeks the same as Isis and
Osiris among the Egyptians. Isis is that which nourishes and raises
up the fruits of the earth; and Osiris among the Egyptians is that
which supplies the fructifying power, which they propitiate with lamentations
as it disappears into the earth in the sowing, and as it is consumed
by us for food.
Osiris is also taken for the river-power of the Nile: when, however,
they signify the terrestrial earth, Osiris is taken as the fructifying
power; but when the celestial, Osiris is the Nile, which they suppose
to come down from heaven: this also they bewail, in order to propitiate
the power when failing and becoming exhausted. And the Isis who, in
the legends, is wedded to Osiris is the land of Egypt, and therefore
she is made equal to him, and conceives, and produces the fruits;
and on this account Osiris has been described by tradition as the
husband of Isis, and her brother, and her son.
At the city Elephantine there is an image worshipped, which in other
respects is fashioned in the likeness of a man and sitting; it is
of a blue colour, and has a ram's head, and a diadem bearing the horns
of a goat, above which is a quoit-shaped circle. He sits with a vessel

Previous | Next
Site Search