A rich world of images has etched itself into the memory of mod­ern man, despite the fact that it is not available in public collec­tions, but lies hidden in old manuscripts and prints. These are the eternal "halls of Los", the prophet of the imag­ination, which are filled with the exemplary images and Platonic figures that govern our understanding of the world and ourselves, and of which the poet William Blake (1757-1827) wrote that "all things acted on earth are seen in them", and that " every age renews its powers from these works". (Jerusalem, 1804-1820) Puzzle pictures 8c linguistic riddles - By imbuing them with a special hieroglyphic aura, the creators of these pictures sought to suggest the very great age of their art and to acknowledge the source of their wisdom: the patriarch of natural mysticism and alchemy, Hermes Trismegistus. It was Greek colonists in late classical Egypt who identified their healing, winged messenger of the gods, Hermes (Lat. Mer­curius) with the ancient Egyptian Thoth, the 'Thrice Greatest'. Thoth was the god of writing and magic, worshipped, like Hermes, as the "psychopompos", the souls' guide through the underworld. The mythical figure of Hermes Trismegistus was also linked to a legendary pharaoh who was supposed to have taught the Egyp­tians all their knowledge of natural and supernatural things, in­cluding their knowledge of hieroglyphic script. The alchemists saw him as their "Moses" who had handed down the divine command­ments of their art in the " emerald tablet". This "Tabula Smarag­dina", now believed to date back to the 6th-8th centuries A.D., became known to the Christian world after the fourteenth century through translations from the Arabic.


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