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ationality. They came to

ationality. They came to say that the knowledge was found in ancient revelations, contained in texts whose authority could not be discussed and that these truths could only be grasped through mystical ecstasy that allows theinitiate direct contact with deity. Thus, the civilization of this period, after the fall of centralist kingdoms and polis, was scattered and with no points of reference left. That period was marked by a form of religious and cultural syncretism through which different cultures complemented each other, remodeled and molded into different forms, all based on a hitherto unknown universalism. New Demands As it always happens in moments of great confusion and uncertainty, religion turns to gods with different, very concrete intentions, much more oriented to the satisfaction of new needs: The gods are asked to play the part of the “savior”. Latin evidence During this period we find some examples, obviously pagan, referring to this heartfelt need for peace and certain, unambiguous and definitive salvation. On a marble pillar, set in a Roman temple in Asia Minor, we read the following words referred to the Emperor Caesar Augustus: Providence has enriched our lives with the greatest of gifts [...] and in her mercy it has provided us, and those to come, with a Savior who [...] will bring order and peace [... ]. News for the world. At the same time, the poet Virgil, great interpreter of the period's thought, in the Fourth Eclogue, described the birth of a child who would live in a world 166

filled with peace and the utmost harmony: Iam redit et virgo, redeunt saturnia regna... (the virgin is back now, and back are the reigns of Saturn. But you, caste Licinia, be appropriate for the child who is coming [...] and in the whole world there will be a golden race). This revelation, however, also has a universal value: It is about every man and offered to all those who want it. It is the chance to attain the spiritual growth which enables their “soul” to be finally reunited with God, from whence it came. Esotericism The term “Esotericism” normally refers to a set of secret teachings that are often inaccessible even to the initiates themselves. In this case, they are worshipped without trying to penetrate their wisdom. Much more often the teachings are secret because this knowledge is only taught within (esoterikòs) the circle of a teacher's disciples and cannot be disclosed publicly. Teachings like magic, the mysteriosophic religion and chemistry were considered “esoteric”, that is they were transmitted only to those disciples who were deemed capable of understanding, and therefore worthy of receiving the knowledge. The Corpus Hermeticum In this cultural and religious environment we find the figure of Hermes Trismegistus 28 who is a master with language, bearer of “logos”, which creates and orders the creation, the guarantor of that salvation that the Hellenic man, who is alone, isolated, and abandoned to the forces of chaos, has an enormous need for. 167

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