The Lament of Hermes
“Do you know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of Heaven, or to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations of the powers which rule and work in Heaven are present in the Earth below? In fact it should be said that the whole Cosmos dwells in this our land as in a sanctuary.
And yet, since it is fitting that wise men should have knowledge of all events before they come to pass, you must not be left in ignorance of what I will now tell you.
There will come a time when it will have been in vain that Egyptians have honored the Godhead with heartfelt piety and service; and all our holy worship will be fruitless and ineffectual.
The gods will return from earth to heaven; Egypt will be forsaken, and the land which was once the home of religion will be left desolate, bereft of the presence of its deities.
O Egypt, Egypt, of thy religion nothing will remain but an empty tale, which thine own children in time to come will not believe; nothing will be left but graven words, and only the stones will tell of thy piety.
And in that day men will be weary of life, and they will cease to think the universe worthy of reverent wonder and worship.
They will no longer love this world around us, this incomparable work of God, this glorious structure which he has built, this sum of good made up of many diverse forms, this instrument whereby the will of God operates in that which he has made, ungrudgingly favoring man’s welfare; this combination and accumulation of all the manifold things that call forth the veneration, praise, and love of the beholder.
Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought more profitable than life; no one will raise his eyes to heaven; the pious will be deemed insane, the impious wise; the madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be esteemed as good.
As for the soul, and the belief that it is immortal by nature, or may hope to attain to immortality, as I have taught you, – all this they will mock, and even persuade themselves that it is false.
No word of reverence or piety, no utterance worthy of heaven, will be heard or believed.
And so the gods will depart from mankind, – a grievous thing! – and only evil angels will remain, who will mingle with men, and drive the poor wretches into all manner of reckless crime, into wars, and robberies, and frauds, and all things hostile to the nature of the soul.
Then will the earth tremble, and the sea bear no ships; heaven will not support the stars in their orbits, all voices of the gods will be forced into silence; the fruits of the Earth will rot; the soil will turn barren, and the very air will sicken with sullen stagnation; all things will be disordered and awry, all good will disappear.
But when all this has befallen, Asclepius, then God the Creator of all things will look on that which has come to pass, and will stop the disorder by the counterforce of his will, which is the good. He will call back to the right path those who have gone astray; he will cleanse the world of evil, washing it away with floods, burning it out with the fiercest fire, and expelling it with war and pestilence.
And thus he will bring back his world to its former aspect, so that the Cosmos will once more be deemed worthy of worship and wondering reverence, and God, the maker and maintainer of the Mighty Fabric, will be adored by the men of that day with continuous songs of praise and blessing.
Such is the new birth of the Cosmos; it is a making again of all things good, a holy and awe-inspiring restoration of all nature; and it is wrought inside the process of Time by the eternal Will of the Creator.”