An Outline of English Literature by G. C. Thornley, Gwyneth Roberts

By G. C. Thornley, Gwyneth Roberts

A survey of the English prose, poetry and drama of significant Britain and eire from earliest instances to the Eighties.

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The human is given power to join in creation and leans across the armature of the spheres. 62 Thus humanity, really part of the world beyond the spheres, comes to be imprisoned within their orbit: from the energy of the seven Governors seven upright androgy60 Nock & Fustugière, Corpus Hermeticum, 7–19. Nock & Fustugière, Corpus Hermeticum, 7. 62 Note the subtle difference between this extraordinary image and the Narcissus story. Failure to recognize this and a tendency to treat myth too literally mar Robert Segal’s account of the ‘Poimandres’ in the light of the work of Eliade and Jung: Robert A.

V, which is concerned only with the goodness and beauty of creation) suggest that evil enters the picture with matter. H. H. VI and X impute evil to the passions present in the world. H. XII and XIII suggest that evil is connected with the spirits ruling the zodiac, who have power over fate and necessity in the material world. All the versions agree that perfection of spiritual qualities, wisdom and total consciousness are the path by which humanity can be redeemed and human beings reunited with God.

68 These stories, which were well known in the Renaissance, also recount Simon’s death, at Rome. 69 Mead’s account goes on to associate the Simonian Gnosis with Hindu texts, and with the theosophy current at the time he was writing, at the end of the nineteenth century. Filoramo connects Gnosticism with a long ‘underground tradition’, which we will meet again. Both authors see these Gnostic myths as living entities, not the product of dry, academic archeology. 70 In this case it is the process by which humanity understands Anthropos as a predicate of the divine, a manifestation of God as a simultaneous and complementary movement to the promptings of a mysterious call or numinous intuition, a ‘troubling vision’ of the presence of a transcendent ‘divine’ element or essence beyond the scope of the apparently comprehensible material world.

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