All A

lioy

AU/H

CEBACMA OF CKEES JADE, COSVEBTED INTO A GNOSTIC TALISM (See page 197.)

THE GNOSTICS

AND

THEIR REMAINS,

ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL.

C. W. KING, MA.

Nam veluti puori trcpidant atque omnia caacis In tencbris metuimt, sic nos in luce timemus Intcrdum nilo qua; sunt metueuda magis quam

ori in tenebris pavitant, finguntque futura.

SECOND EDITION.

LONDON: DAVID NUTT, 270, STRAND.

1887.

LONDON :

PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, STAMFORD STREET AND CHARINQ CROSS.

[All rights reserved.]

PREFACE.

WHEN this work first appeared, three-and-twenty years ago, it became at once an object of unmerited abuse, and of equally unmerited praise. Small divines mistaking it for an insidious attempt to overthrow opinions " as by law established," spurted at it with pens dipped in the milk of the Gospel ; whilst, under the very same hallucination, " Friends of Light " lauded it to the skies either party equally ignorant both of the subject, and of the purpose of my labours. One noted Zoilus (whose recollections of Homer would seem to be of the same deeply- marked nature as Ensign Blifil's) is disgusted at my citing " Aidoneus " as a title of the God of the Shades ; another is astonished at my ignorance in calling Bardanes a Persian, whereas he was a native of Pontus ; not understanding that my argument was equally valid in spite of the mistake Pontus being originally a province of the empire of Darius, and what is more to the purpose, the actual focus whence Mithraicism diffused itself over the Eoman world.

A still greater cause of outcry against the book was my presuming to lay presumptuous hands upon the Sacred Ark of Masonry, and openly express my opinion that the " Free and Accepted " of these times have no more real connexion with the ancient Craft, out of whose terms and forms, like fig-leaves, they have stitched together aprons, wherewith to cover the real nakedness of their pretension, than the Italian Carbonari of Murat's day had with the trade of charcoal burners, whose baskets were borrowed for the President's throne. King Hiram's skull gnashed his teeth with rage within the cista mystica ; and one valiant young Levite of the course of Abia,

VI PREFACE.

proceeds thus logically to confute all my assertions : " Athelstan built a church : he could not build without masons ; argal, Athelstan was the founder of Masonry in England.

But enough of this ; the same treatment is necessarily in store for the present edition ; it must look fur

" Verbera, carnifices, robur, pix, lamina, taedae."

The one reviewer of its predecessor who exhibited any acquain tance with the literature of the subject, felt himself (from his position) " in duty bound " to qualify his praise by passing the summary judgment " that I had displayed in the work more of the spirit of a Gnostic than of a Catholic Christian." This sentence, intended for condemnatory, I accept as the highest praise that could be given to my labours taking yvwortKos in its strict sense of " one addicted to knowledge " ; and who therefore studies the history and remains of any opinion for the solo purpose of understanding the truth ; and not for the sake of demonstrating the Truth can only exist under one defined form.

Let me now proceed to state how, in the present edition, I have endeavoured still further to deserve the appellation attached to me by the good-natured Aristarchus. My Treatise was the only one upon Gnostic Archaeology (for Dr. Walsh's little book scarce deserves the name) that had appeared since Chiflet's admirable " Apistopistus " (1617); Matter, in his ' Histoire Critique du Gnosticisme (1827), an excellent analysis of the doctrines of the Gnosis, doing nothing for its monuments, beyond republishing, on a reduced scale, the engravings of the " Apistopistus." The only sources of information accessible to me at the time of writing that edition were the same as those drawn upon by Matter before me, namely the treatises of Irenaeus and Epiplianius. In the interval, I have become acquainted with, and, in order thoroughly to master, have made complete translations of, two recently discovered works that throw much light upon many difficult questions in this investigation. The one is the 'Refutation of all Heresies,' ascribed, either to Origen or Hippolytus : its author being inti mately acquainted with the doctrines which he holds up for

PREFACE. Vll

detestation, or for ridicule ; and (what makes his criticisms of far higher value to students of the present day) illustrating them by copious extracts from the then so extensive heretical literature, soon to be completely exterminated by the triumph of the " orthodox " Faith.

The other aid is the " Pistis-Sophia," sole survivor of the once numerous family of Gnostic Gospels ; but fortunately the most important of them all for our purpose, and the very one for whose escape (in its Coptic disguise) the archreologist ought to feel most grateful to the ignorance of the destroyers. For, whereas the other Gnostic teachers appear (as Hippolytus loves to point out) to build up their systems upon the lines of various Grecian philosophies, the " Pistis-Sophia " makes known to us what were the deepest secrets of the so celebrated Egyptian Mysteries, which are identical with those of the Eabbinical Kabbala, the only alteration being that of putting them into the mouth of Scripture personages, in order to adapt them to the prevailing change of ideas. This book, therefore, from its very nature supplies a kind of elucidation of con temporary monuments not to be found elsewhere, for the Christian Fathers discuss only the doctrines of their adversaries, not condescending to notice their application to the uses of everyday life. It is the latter point that gives such interest to the " Pistis-Sophia " we gain from it the whole category of Holy Names, of such talismanic virtue; the powers and titles of the actual genii, the constitution of the soul ; and its state after death. But what is yet more curious, the " Pistis- Sophia " exhibits the leading principles of the Kabbala already established, and applied to the demonstration of the highest truths in exactly the same manner as these principles wore used by the heresiarch, Marcus, in the third century. And here it may be remarked parenthetically, that no one really acquainted with the history of religious opinions, can for a moment imagine that Marcus (a born Jew, be it remembered) was the first inventor of the wondrous machinery which he used in the development of his system, and the ' Manifestation of Truth,' he did but apply to a new purpose the rules that he found already established as authoritative in the Rabbinical

Vlll PREFACE.

schools. For in Religion there is no " new thing " ; the same ideas are worked up over and over again ; the gold in the sovereign of to-day may first have circulated in the new-coined stater of Croesus.

Last, in point of time, but equally valuable with any of the fresh sources that have served me for the completion of this work, must I gratefully acknowledge the oral teachings of Eabbi Dr. Schiller-Szinessy that unchanged representative of the Gamaliels of old at whose feet I have sat for many years, listening to his exposition of the " Holy Zohar." What ever may be the date of the present form of that transcendental development of the Torah no one but an inverted Jew, totally unread in the Greek historians of the Gnosis, can fail to perceive that its principles and traditions are the veiy same as those taught in the schools of Babylon and Tiberias at the time when Simon Magus and Justinus studied there.

During the many years that have slipped by since its first publication, I have irom time to time re-cast and re- written the entire Treatise, incorporating with the former contents what ever fresh information, reading, or chance, might throw in my way. In the same interval, two other works upon this subject have made their appearance. Dean Mansel's l Gnostics ' is a well- written and accurate summary of all that the Greek Fathers have left us upon the doctrines of the various sects ; but, as the book is evidently intended for the use of theological students alone, the author has regarded his subject from a strictly pro fessional point of view ; totally ignoring the archaeological side of the question (with which I am chiefly concerned), as being altogether foreign to the purpose for which he wrote.

On the other hand, Dr. Ginsburg's ' The Kabbala : its Doctrines, Development, and Literature,' possesses not only the merit of a lucid exposition of the most abstruse of all Theo- sophies, as contemplated in the shape to which it has been brought by the refining subtlety of successive generations of Bobbins but will be found an invaluable guide to all who attempt the interpretation of talismanic inscriptions. For example, the Hebrew radicals, which express the Names of the Sephiroth, are ta be discovered in the strings of Greek

PREFACE. IX

consonants, now dumb for want of vowels, which have hitherto baffled the ingenuity of every reader.

There seems reason for suspecting that the Sibyl of Esoteric Buddhism drew the first notions of her new religion from the analysis of the Inner Man, as set forth in my first edition. I may therefore promise to myself the gratitude of those " clear spirits " (the Miltonian phrase) who are busying themselves " by searching to find out God," for now making known to them a still more profound theosophy, whose revelations definitely settle hardest problems relating to our mental nature, and the world beyond the grave. Investigators of the same order as the Esoteric Buddhists will find here a Gospel ready made to their hand so full of great truths, so original in its conceptions, that it would seem to flow from no human source ; and must carry conviction of its divine origin to every mind that shall be adapted by its nature for the reception of the good seed.

In conclusion, I must express my grateful acknowledgments of the services of my indefatigable friend, Mr. S. S. Lewis, Fellow of Corpus Christi College; but for whose persuasion, and negotiations with the publishers, these pages would never have seen the light. Not merely this, but he has enabled me to overcome an apparently insurmountable difficulty in the way of the publication the failure of my sight, which totally prevented my conducting the work through the press by taking upon himself the correction of the proofs : a laborious and irksome task to any one besides the author ; and demanding a sacrifice of time that can only be appreciated by those, who, like myself, know the multifarious nature of the engagements by which every hour of his life is so completely absorbed.

Mr. Joseph Jacobs has furnished a carefully compiled list of authors quoted in this work, and of the references made to them, which will be found of use to those who wish to pursue the subject still further.

C. W. KING.

THINITY COLLEGB:, CAMBRIDGE, August 26, 1887.

>AGK V

CONTENTS.

PREFACE

xin Introduction .

PART I.

GNOSTICISM AND ITS SOURCES.

Introduction— Gnosticism and its origin— Pistis-Sophia— Book of Enoch— Gnosticism in its beginning— Influence of Judaism on the Ancients— The Zendavesta— The Kabbala and the T mud— Indian Sources of Gnosticism, Manes— Buddhism— Simon- ianism— Basilides— The Ophites— Machinery of the Gnosis

PART II.

THE WORSHIP OF MITHRAS AND SERAPIS.

Origin of Mithraicism— The Mithraic Sacraments— A Roman Mithas °in his Cave— Mithraic Talismans— Gnostic Sacraments and Initiations, as Connected with the Mithraic— St. Augustine on Gnosticism— The Worship of Serapis— The Figured Representa tions of Serapis— Probable Origin of Serapis— Monuments the Serapis-worship— The Caduceus and its Symbolism— Death, as Represented in Ancient Art— Tomb-treasures— Gnostic con nection with Superstitious Practices, the Evil Eye— Cerauma Jade converted into a Gnostic Talisman

PART III.

ABRAXAS, ABRAXASTER AND ABRAXOID GEMS. A^athodacmon Worship— The Chnuphis Serpent— The Abraxas —Abraxaster, or Borrowed Types— Abraxoids, or Gems con founded with the true Gnostic— The True Abraxas < The god Abraxas, as described by the Christian Fathers- « Abraxas," Etymology of-" Abraxas," its numerical Vain The Abraxas Religion-The Ineffable name m its Hindoo Form-Abraxas-gerns, their Materials, Workmanship, Nature— Legends and Formulas .

Xll CONTENTS.

PART IV. THE FIGURED MONUMENTS OF GNOSTICISM.

Gnostic Siglxj Symbols, Legends Explained The Name IAQ Abraxas, a New Type of Original Purpose of these Formula The Gnostic Theogony The Schema of the Ophites The Cause of Sin State after death of the Uninitiated Future Punishments, and the Infernal Hierarchy Talismanic Leaden Scrolls Leaden Books Numerals, Their Virtues Magic Squares .......... 303

PART V.

TEMPLARS, ROSICBUCIAN&, FREEMASONS.

Preservation of Gnostic Symbols among the Freemasons Masonic Pretences " Constitutiones Artis Geometriae " Henry VI. and his Masons Hindoo and Chinese Symbols Masons' Marks Stonehenge The Carbonari De Quincey The Rosy Cross "Vultus Triformis" Hosea Lux Lodges First Established Templars Suppressed "Mystery of Baphomet Revealed" Articles of Accusation against the Templars Orphic Mysteries Clarkson on the Temple Church " Baphometic Vases " Manicheism in France The Assassins of the Lebanon The Druses The Sufi of Persia Lodges first Established Spartacus Weishaupt Wren " Scottish Knights "—Cypher Writing " Book of Kells " Brand-marking, National and Mystic . 373

DESCRIPTION OF WOODCUTS ....... 432

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES ........ 435

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL APPENDIX, by Joseph Jacobs, B.A. . . . 449

INDEX ........... 457

PLATES A to 0.

INTRODUCTION.

THAT nothing upon the subject of Gnosticism should have hitherto been attempted in our language except by Dr. Walsh in his very meagre sketch (long since out of print), seemed to me a sufficient excuse for my undertaking the same task upon a more comprehensive scale, as well as upon different principles. Dr. Walsh's performance, entitled « An Essay on Coins, Medals, and Gems, as illustrating the progress of Christianity in the Early Ages,' is little more than an abridgment of some popular Church History for the period comprehended within its scope, illustrated from the very scanty store of monuments at his command ; whilst his explanations are, like the source supply ing them, based upon grounds altogether fallacious, and, even to the beginner, obviously unsatisfactory.

Taking for granted, upon the bare word of their opponents, that the various Teachers of the Gnosis were mere heretics, that is, perverters of the regular (!) Christian doctrine which they had at first embraced as a divine revelation, he, like his guides, did not trouble himself any further to investigate the true origin of their systems, but was content with roughly sketching their most prominent features ; whilst in explaining their extant pro ductions, he refers all, however diverse in nature, to the same school, and interprets them according to his own preconceived and baseless views of their character.

On such a plan as this, neither the doctrines nor the monu ments they have bequeathed to us in such profusion are susceptible of even a plausible explanation, much less of one capable of satisfying an unprejudiced and inquiring mind. The method, therefore, of treating the subject which I have followed in the present work is to begin by reviewing the great religions systems of the East, flourishing at the time of the promulgation

XIV INTRODUCTION.

of Christianity in those regions, with the influence of these systems upon the modes of thought and expression of both the missionaries of the new creed and their opponents ; and lastly to establish, upon the testimony of the Apostle to the Gentiles himself, the previous existence of the germs of Gnosticism in the cities that were the scene of his most important labours.

In my sketch of these older systems I have done little more than condense Matter's admirable introduction to his * Histoire Critique du Gnosticisme ' ; but from that point forward have carried on my investigations according to a theory to which that writer once alludes approvingly, although, from some un accountable reason, he has neglected to follow it out to its legitimate consequences. Eestricting himself to describing in his lucid and elegant style the speculations of the several heresi- archs, and seeking no further back than the Zendavesta and Kabbala for the storehouses whence they all must have drawn their first principles, he falls into the grave error of represent ing their doctrines as novel, and the pure inventions of the persons that preached them.

That the seeds of the Gnosis were originally of Indian growth, carried so far westward by the influence of that Buddhistic movement which had previously overspread all the East, from Thibet to Ceylon, was the great truth faintly discerned by Matter, but which became evident to me upon acquiring even a slight acquaintance with the chief doctrines of Indian theosophy. To display this in the most incontrovertible manner, the two systems, each in its highest form of development that of Valentinus, and that, of the Nepal ese Buddhists are described and confronted for the sake of establishing their original identity: and throughout these pages innumerable other points of affinity will be found noticed as they present themselves. Actual historical proof of the same fact will also be adduced, establishing the important circumstance (but hitherto entirely unnoticed, or disregarded) that Buddhism had already been planted in the dominions of the Seleucida3 and the Ptolemies at least as early as the times of the generation following the establishment of those dynasties, and was provided for in treaties made between those Grecian princes and the great

INTRODUCTION. XV

Hindoo promoter of the religion. In the history of the Church it is most certain that almost every notion that was subsequently denounced as heretical can bo traced up to Indian speculative philosophy as its genuine fountain-head : how much that was allowed to pass current for orthodox had really flowed from the same source, it is neither expedient nor decorous now to inquire.

In order to obtain a clear view of the principal forms of Gnosticism, as well as to escape relying upon second-hand information (in this case more than elsewhere untrustworthy), j commenced the collecting materials for the present work by carefully perusing the vast ' Panarion ' of Epiphanius a laborious undertaking, but well repaid by the vivid picture he presents of the inner state of society under the Lower Empire, and of the war even at that late period so fiercely waged between Reason and Faith. The ' Panarion ' is a connected history of the Gnosis in all its developments during the first three centuries the author quoting Irenasus for the earlier ages ; for the later his account is of the highest value, having been derived from personal experience, Epiphanius having in his youth belonged to the Marcosian sect. After his days nothing new sprung up in the field of Eeligious philosophy, before so diversified with the vigorous and more curious flowers (or weeds) of the Gnosis ; the civil now combining with the ecclesiastical power to cut down and root out all such daring and irregular growths of the human mind.

Since the first publication of this treatise I have become acquainted with and minutely studied two authorities of the greatest importance for the true understanding of Gnosticism the one for its philosophy ; the other for its tangible remains. * The Refutation of all Heresies,' of Hippolytus, written two centuries before the 'Panarion,' gives a view of the chief schools of the Gnosis, drawn up with the utmost intelligence united with the most charming candour ; qualities sadly to seek in the other ecclesiastical historians. The ' Pistis-Sophia,' the only Gnostic Gospel preserved, throws a light upon the terminology and machinery of the religion that, before its discovery and publication was perfectly unattainable. Both

XVI INTRODUCTION.

these treatises are of recent discovery, and consequently their assistance was lost to the previous historians of Gnosticism. I have therefore availed myself largely of these invaluable resources, which will be found doing good service in almost every section of the present work.

After considering the class of speculations that owed their birth to India, next in importance for her contributions to the opinions, still more to the monuments before us, conies Egypt with her primeval creed, although exhibited in its Romanized and latest phase ; and whose productions are too often confounded with the true offspring of the Gnosis. These remains are here discriminated ; their distinctive characters are pointed out ; and they are arranged under several heads, according as their object was religious or medicinal. In the consideration of these remains, Bellermann's classification has been chiefly followed ; according to which the truly Gnostic are regarded as those only that exhibit the figure of the Pantheus, Abraxas, the actual invention of Basilides, and which gives its name to the class. The second, Abraxoids, includes the types borrowed from different religions by the other Gnostic teachers. The third, Abraxaster, consists of such as in their nature are purely astrological, and intended for talismans; deriving their virtues from the stars. In the first of these classes much space has been devoted to the ingenious creation of the Alexandrine philosopher, the pantheistic image of the supreme Abraxas ; whose title has hitherto been improperly applied to monuments some of which are anterior in date to his embodiment in a visible form; whilst others spring from nations entirely unconnected with his worship. Of this eidolon of the personage thereby typified, of the meaning of his name and titles, much information has been collected, and presented here in a connected form for the benefit of those interested in learning what can on safe grounds be established in elucidation of these abtruse questions.

Mithraicism, under whose kindly and congenial shelter so much of Occidental Christianity grew up unmolested, is reviewed in its due order, and the causes explained of an alliance at first sight BO inexplicable. With this subject are connected the singular resemblance between the ceremonial of the two, and the transfer

INTRODUCTION. XVH

of so much that was Mithraic into the practice of the orthodox ; and many curious memorials will be found described bearing witness to the reality of this adaptation.

After the Mithraic, the religion of Serapis comes to be considered ; a worship which, besides being the last of the Heathen forms to fall before the power of Christianity, had previously contributed, as largely as the Mithraic, to the con stitution of the later Gnosticism. It is in truth a great mis take, the confining the name of "Gnostic"(as is commonly done) to the sectaries who, boasting of their " superior lights," declared that they were the only real Christians (as did the Ophites), and that too in virtue of a creed professedly of their own devising. Such Gnostics indeed were Christians by their own showing, and regarded all who differed from them as heretics : but at the same time they based their arguments upon the tenets of Pagan religions; very far from regarding the latter as the empty fabrications of demons, which was the persuasion of the ortho dox. But although they accepted these ancient Ethnic legends, it was only because through the help of their " knowledge " they were enabled to discern the truth enveloped within these seemingly profane traditions. But the followers of Mithras and of Serapis had in reality, and long before them, a Gnosis of their own, communicated in their Mysteries to the initiated few ; and they opposed to the predictions of orthodox and Gnostic alike claims and pretensions lofty as their own. The Emperor Hadrian, a most diligent inquirer into things above man's nature, got himself initiated into one mystery after another; nevertheless we shall find him writing from Alexandria that the worship of Christ and of Serapis was in that city one and the same, and moreover the sole religion of that immense population. Consequently, those initiated into the true secrets of the old religion must have recognised the fact that their deity, whether the Sun or the Soul of the Universe, was nothing but a type of the One, the Saviour recently revealed to them : or else it would appear (which tells equally for our argument) that the new converts, in order to escape persecution, enjoyed their own faith under the covert of the national worship, which was susceptible of a spiritual interpretation quite cognate to their own ideas,

b

XV111 INTRODUCTION.

and indeed enshrouding the same. As for the worshippers of Mithras, their whole elaborate system of sacraments and degrees of initiation had no other object than the securing of spiritual enlightenment and spiritual blessings. The foundation being the pure teaching of Zoroaster, its holders were prepared gladly to accept any higher revelation, and to discover that the greater mystery had been foreshadowed in the types and ceremonies of the former one. In this way a man might continue a Mithraicist and yet accept all the doctrines of Christianity, as the priests of that religion in their last days assured the incredulous Augustine.

After thus pointing out the various elements which the Apostles of the Gnosis worked up so ingeniously into one harmonious whole, incorporating therewith so much of the Christian scheme as fitted to the rest, we come prepared to the examination of the Symbols and Terminology by which these ideas were communicated to the members of the sect who had attained to the Arcanum; the composite images or sigils " having a voice for the intelligent, which the vulgar crowd heareth not."

Astrology justly claims for her own a large share of the relics popularly called Gnostic; for Gnosticism, from the beginning, had linked its own speculations to those of the Magians' national science, and borrowed as a vehicle for its own peculiar ideas the machinery of the latter its Astral Genii, Decani, and Myriageneses. And this truth was seen by the earliest writers upon Gnosticism, for Hippolytus proves conclusively, at much length, that the system of the Peratae (a branch of the Ophites) was nothing more than a barefaced plagiarism from the rules of Astrology. Under this head I have endeavoured to separate the purely Astrological talismans from those to which the illuminati, their makers, had given a more spiritual sense. "Astrology, not Christ, is the author of their religion," says Hippolytus of the sects founded by Euphrates and Celbes ; and proceeds to give extracts from their writings, held in the highest esteem at the time, which amply bear out his assertion.

Next pour in, a multitudinous swarm, the stones covered over with long strings of bare inscriptions, genuine offspring of the Kabbala, that betray the handiwork of the idol-hating Jewish

INTRODUCTION. XIX

dreamers of Alexandria spoils even then ascribed to Solomon, and which secured the favour

" Of those demons that are found In fire, air, flood, or under ground; Whose power hath a true consent With planet or with element."

One object I have kept steadily in view throughout the whole of this investigation to show how the productions of the different schools are to be distinguished from each other ; and to this particular attention has been given in describing the numerous remains proceeding from the several sources just enumerated, that are collected in the accompanying plates, and thus in some degree to remedy the confusion that reigns at present in the whole department. My predecessor, Matter, busied himself only with the doctrines, making use of the monuments merely in illustration of his remarks ; but as my own labours are properly designed to be subsidiary to his invaluable treatise, I refer the reader to him for the more complete elucidation of the philosophy of Gnosticism, and give my full attention to its archaeological side, which he has too cursorily glanced at, and for which nothing has been done of any importance since the publications of Chiflet and Montfaucon.

Last to be considered comes the Gnosis in its final and grandest manifestation, the composite religion of Manes : with its wonderful revival and diffusion over Medieval Europe ; and its supposed connexion with the downfall of the Templars, of which catastrophe the history and causes are here briefly sketched ; although to form a satisfactory judgment on the merits of the case is about the hardest problem history can offer. With their scandal and their fate is coupled the most singular phe nomenon of modern times the preservation by their professed descendants, the Freemasons, of so much symbolism that appears to be indisputably Gnostic in its origin. For this, however (unfortunately for the lovers of mystery), a very matter of fact but doubtless sufficient cause can be assigned, and by valid arguments established: when the solution of the enigma irresistibly brings to mind ^Esop's apologue of the " Fox and the Mask," and his exclamation of disappointment after he had at

XX INTRODUCTION.

last mustered up sufficient courage to examine the interior of the awe-inspiring and venerable head. This section is illustrated by all the information I have been able to glean from different sources upon the curious subject of Masons' Marks which, yet existing and in common use amongst our own craftsmen and equally so amongst the Hindoos in daily religious observance, can be traced back through Gothic retention, and Gnostic usage, through old Greek and Etruscan art, to their ultimate source ; and which attest more convincingly than any thing else what region gave birth to the theosophy making such liberal use of the same siylse in Roman times. To assist inquirers into this point I have been careful to give references to all the published lists of these Marks that have come to my knowledge ; which same rule I have observed as regards other monographs upon the several various questions discussed in the following pages. In this way the shortcomings of myself can be supplied by those desirous of fuller information : for 1 am well aware that my own best qualification for attempting an arduous investigation like the present, extending over so many and un connected branches of learning, lies in a larger practical ex perience of the monuments themselves, tangible and literary, than was possessed by those who have hitherto attempted it. And as it is a most true adage, " Dans le pays des aveugles le borgne est roi," there is some probability of my labours proving both novel and interesting to many, who desire to know something authentic upon the much-talked-of but little under stood subject of Gnosticism.

Related to this religion by their nature are talismans and amulets in general ; for Gnostic symbols and Gnostic formulae gave their virtue to many of the class : being borrowed either directly from the Gnosis, or from the older creeds out of which the latter was constructed. Their employment, and the notions generating them, have been here described ; showing the deriva tion of many of the medieval examples from the Gnostic class ; and by following out the same principle it has been attempted to find a key to their cabalistic legends, which may fit them better than any hitherto offered by their interpreters symbols and emblems being with them those conveying the idea of death,

INTRODUCTION. XXI

which last indeed has of all others furnished the richest store of such imagery ; for thereby the human mind endeavoured to familiarise itself with the thought of mortality, and by em bellishing the idea tried to reconcile itself to the inevitable. This being a topic of universal interest, to say nothing of its very important relations to Art, my collections connected therewith have been somewhat extensive, and embrace many particulars neglected by Lessing in his curious es^ay entitled * Wie die Alien den Tod gebildet.'

With respect to the illustrations of this book, many doubtless will be surprised as well as disappointed at finding them derived entirely from monuments of such small apparent im portance as engraved stones ; and, thinking this part incomplete on that account, may accuse the author of negligence in not having had recourse to other evidences of a more public character. But the limitation is in truth the necessary result of the nature of the things discussed in this inquiry. Secret Societies, especially the one whose maxim was (as Clemens records) that truly wise one

" Learn to know all, but keep thyself unknown ; " erect no monuments to attract public attention. They deal but in symbols, to be privately circulated amongst their members in passwords known only to the illuminati ; or else they embody their doctrines in mystic drawings, like the Ophite " Dia- gramma " ; or upon papyri long since committed to the flames. The man of taste, but not an antiquary, will certainly exclaim against the rudeness of the drawing in my illustrations ; but the truth is that, rude as they look, they in most cases flatter their originals, the extreme barbarism of which it was often found impossible to reproduce with any hope of leaving the meaning recognisable. Be it remembered that

" Gratia non habitat, non hoc Cyllenius antro."

Pallas no longer, as in the earlier ages of the art, guided the engraver's hand, but Siva and Bhavani (ill-disguised as Hermes and Isis) suggested the designs ; or else he was inspired by the Typhonian monsters which imagined the Genii of Astrology. The religion of Fear, under its various manifestations, n »w

XX11 INTRODUCTION.

reigned supreme, having banished the beauteous sensuous machinery of the old Greek Nature-worship, into which nothing that was malignant or hideous was ever suffered to intrude. The virtue of the talisman lay in the type it carried ; and in its own material substance the manner of the exhibition of the potent sigil was altogether unregarded. One of the most learned men this University has ever produced once re marked to me that the Gnostic theories reminded him of the visions that float through the brain of a madman not of a fool. Circumstances following gave a melancholy force to this acute and accurate distinction. Let any imaginative person read my extracts from the " Revelation " of Marcus, with all its crazy ingenuity in deducing the nature of the Deity from the pro perties of numerals ; above all, his exemplification of Infinity by the perpetual multiplication of the letters contained in other letters making up a name he will speedily find his brain begin to whirl, and be reminded of similar phantoms of numerals recurring in endless series, and the equally endless attempts to sum them up in order to obtain repose, that fill the head when suffering from the first approaches of fever before actual delirium pushes memory from her seat. Or, again, when the febrile disturbance of the brain is yet slighter, one will sometimes awake out of a dream with a fleeting sensation of inexpressible happiness arising from the immediate attainment of Omniscience in virtue of something that has just been revealed to him ; but too soon he finds that ineffable something has fled for ever, all that is left of it being the faint recollection that it was contained in a numeral. And one of the most striking points in the revelation of the * Seherin von Prevorst,' so religiously recorded by Justinus Kerner (and which proves that all the wondrous narrative was not imposture), is her declaration that she could see the entire history of each year as it closed, with every event, however trifling, clear and distinct before her mind, all comprehended within the form of a single numeral; and her assertion upon these grounds that at the Judgment-Day the whole past life of every man will thus be pictured in a single moment before his mind's eye.

About half the number of the drawings for these illustra-

INTRODUCTION. XX111

tions were done by myself from the most interesting specimens that came under my notice in the course of several years, so that I am able to vouch for their scrupulous fidelity. After wards, when the sudden failure of my sight prevented my carrying on the drawings, the kindness of the then owner of most of the originals came to my assistance and furnished the remainder. Most of them in fact were taken from the largo and unpublished set contained in the ancient Praun Cabinet (formed three centuries ago), now unfortunately broken up. The Gnostic stones, however 73 in number have been since that time purchased for the British Museum, where they will be found conveniently arranged for consultation, iri the Egyptian Room, which contains the works in terra-cotta. This my collection of drawings was in truth the occasion of the present work; for after making out a detailed description of each specimen, it became easy to put the mass of materials I had collected for their elucidation into a form available for support ing my explanations by showing the grounds on which they were based : and in this way the work has grown up by gradual accretion to its present dimensions. The theme offers so bound less a variety of interesting subjects for research, one suggesting another in endless succession, that it can only be compared to Marcus' own exposition of the infinite composition of the In effable Name (quoted above), and would alone supply materials for a whole library of distinct treatises upon its various sub divisions.

In those few instances where the better style of the original deserved reproduction by a more artistic hand, I have had recourse to the services of Mr. E. B. Utting, who has executed the woodcuts with a spirit as well as an accuracy that leave nothing to be desired.

PART I. GNOSTICISM AND ITS SOURCES.

TOVTOV pc Xl'lPLV

&ioSev<rco, fj.v(TTr]pi(i TrdvTa Stavoi^co,

/cai ra Kcupvpufva rfs ayias TNH2IN KaXeo-as, 7rapa8a)O-co.

ifc J/2/WW, (Hippolytus, v. 10.)

Nan e pulcggio da piccola barca

Quel die fendcndo va 1' ardita prora,

Nb da nocclner ch' a sc medesmo parca."

(Dante, Farad, xxiii. 68.)

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS,

GNOSTICISM AND ITS ORIGIN.

THE general name " Gnostics " is used to designate several widely differing sects, which sprang up in the Eastern provinces of the Roman Empire almost simultaneou.-ly with the first planting of Christianity. That is to say, these sects then for the first time assumed a definite form, and ranged themselves under different teachers, by whose names they became known to the world, although in all probability their main doctrines had made their appearance previously in many of the cities of Asia Minor. There, it is probable, these sectaries first came into definite existence under the title of " Mystae," upon the estab lishment of a direct intercourse with India and her Buddhist philosophers, under the Seleuciclae and the Ptolemies.

The term " Gnosticism " is derived from the Greek, Gnosis, knowledge a word specially employed from the first dawn of religious inquiry to designate the science of things divine. Thus Pythagoras, according to Diogenes Laeitius, called the transcendental portion of his philosophy, Pvwo-ts TOJV oi/ron/, " the knowledge of things that are." And in later times Gnosis was the name given to what Porphyry calls the Antique or Oriental philosophy, to distinguish it from the Grecian systems. But the term was first used (as Matter on good grounds conjectures) in its ultimate sense of supernal and celestial knowledge, by the Jewish philosophers belonging to the celebrated school of that nation, flourishing at Alexandria. These teachers, following the example of a noted Rabbi, Aristobulus, surname d the Pcripatician, endeavoured to make out that all the wisdom •of the Greeks was derived immediately from the Hebrew

B 2

4 THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

Scripture ; and by means of their well-known mode of alle gorical interpretation, which enabled them to elicit any sense desired out of any given passage of the Old Testament, they sought, and often succeeded, in establishing their theory. In this way they showed that Plato, during his sojourn in Egypt, had been tlieir own scholar ; and still further to support these pretensions, the indefatigable Aristobulus produced a string of poems in the names of Linus, Orpheus, Homer, and Ilesiod all strongly impregnated with the spirit of Judaism. But his Judaism was a very different thing from the simplicity of the Pentateuch. A single, but very characteristic, production, of this Jewish Gnosis has come down to our times. This is the " Book of Enoch " (v. p. 18), of which the main object is to maJcc Imown the description of the heavenly bodies and the true names of tho same, as revealed to tho Patriarch by the angel Uriel. This profession betrays, of itself, the Magian source whence its inspiration was derived. Many Jews, nevertheless, accepted it as a divine revelation ; even the Apostle Jude scruples not to quote it as of genuine Scriptural authority. The " Pistis- Sophia," attributed to tho Alexandrian heresiarch Valentinus (so important a guide in the following inquiry), perpetually refers to it as : Tho highest source of knowledge, as being dictated by Christ Himself, "speaking out of the Tree of Life unto I EOT, the Primal Man." Another Jewish-Gnostic Scripture of even greater interest, (inasmuch as it is the " Bible " of the only professed Gnostic sect that has maintained its existence to tho present day, the Mandaites of Bassora,) is their text book, the " Book of Adam." Its doctrines and singular application of Zoroastrism to Jewish tenets, present frequent analogies to those of the Pistis-Sophia, in its continual reference to the ideas of the " Religion of Light," of which full particulars will be given when the latter remarkable work comes to be considered (see p. 14). " Gnosticism," therefore, cannot receive a better definition than in that dictum of the sect first and specially calling itself *' Gnostics," the Naaseni (translated by the Greeks into " Ophites "), viz., " the beginning of perfection is the knowledge of man, but absolute perfection is the know ledge of God." And to give a general view of the nature of

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.