Hermes Philosophus: Ramon Martí's Singular Use of a Mythical Authority
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

HERMES PHILOSOPHUS: RAMON MARTÍ'S SINGULAR USE OF A MYTHICAL AUTHORITY David Porreca University ofWaterloo, Ontario Ramon Marti, die thirteenth-century Catalan Dominican (ca. 12201284 /85), is best known for his preaching and polemical writing against dieJews and Muslims, in particular his Pugiofidei. He was well-versed in Hebrew and Arabic, his erudition and knowledge ofboth languages known and respected by his contemporaries. His linguistic skills allowed Marti to make use of sources in his writings that were not readily available to his Latin colleagues. It also enabled him to examine more widely known sources in a new light. A prominent example is Marti's reading of the mythical ancient sage Hermes Trismegistus. Works attributed to this audior circulated in Arabic as well as Latin. Much of die Latin Hermetic material diat. related to practical matters (magic, astrology, divination, alchemy, etc.) circulating in Europe in die later diirteendi century was translated from Arabic, often in Spain at die school ofToledo, such as De secretin nature (edited by Françoise Hudry) and Liber despatula. In spite ofhis geographical proximity to this center of learning, Marti never displayed any interest in these so-called practical Hermetic treatises. Instead, his earliestwriting, die Explanalio simboli apostolonim composed in 1257-58 while on a mission to Tunis (Ferdinand Cavadera 201 ?.2), offered a highly original reading of theoretical Hermetic works such as the Asclepius, a dialogue in the Platonic style addressing such questions as whedier man is die nexus Portions ofthis paper are adapted from a chapter in my doctoral dissertation, "The Influence ofHermetic Texts on Western European Philosophers and Theologians ( 1 1 601300 )", 58-75. Initial research on this topic was conducted thanks to the generous assistance ofthe Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. La CORoNiCA 36.1 (Fall, 2007): 129-44 130David Porree a La coránica 3(5.1, 2007 between God and the material world, and the Liber XXI\'philosophe)rum, a work j)resenting tiventv-four definitions of Gotl %\"itli accompanying commentary. Here I shall examine Marti's reading of Hermetic material, especially his contact with Hermetic works, his identification of Hermes Trismegistus, and the influence of Hermetic materials on Marti's own ideas. I will also advance some speculative explanations for the absence of Hermes in the list of authorities cited in his later, more prominent works such as the Pugio ficlei. Marli's original approach to Hermes is most evident during his discussion of natural knowledge of the Trinity. In contrast to fellow Dominicans Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and Ulrich of Strasbourg (1225-1277), Marti sees Hermes as an example of how natural knowledge of the Trinity is indeed possible. Marti and Hermes: Direct and Derivative Contact The Dominican Order was rooted in traditions of teaching and intellectually centred missionary efforts aiming to convert. Gentiles to Christianity. The pedagogical focus of the order was based on a profound respect for the intellectual tradition established by its members. The most prominent examJ)Ie is the influence of Albertus Magnus on several generations of German Dominican intellectuals, from Ulrich of Strasbourg, Dietrich of Freibourg and Meister Eckhart to Berthold of Moosburg. .Although prominent Dominicans often mention Hermes in their works, Marti was exceptional in having direct contact with the Asclepius. Among his contemporary Dominicans, Albertus Magnus alone shares this distinction with him. Others, such as Ulrich of Strasbourg and Thomas Aquinas, cited Hermes but obtained their information secondhand, without ever consulting Hermetic works themselves. In many cases, thev refer to the passages from the Asclepius that St. Augustine had criticized so vehemently in Book VIII, 23-27 of De civilate Dei (1: 334-(5S). Another common source for quotations from Hermes in the thirteenth century was Quodvultdeus's work Adversas quinqué hacieses. Quodvultdeus was one ol Augustine's successors as bishop of Carthage, but his reception of Hermes was significantly less critical than Augustine's. Since Quodvultdeus's works circulated under Augustine's name during the Middle Ages, some confusion arose among scholars; some, based on Augustine's legitimate work, thought Hermes was a dangerous promoter of idolatry, while others, reading from the pseudo- Hermes philosophus131 Augustinian Adversus quinqué haereses, tended to view him as a pagan prophet...