Hermes Trismegistus

The Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth, with whom the Greek Hermes was identified.1 The Egyptian Thoth or Hermes was considered as the real author of every thing produced and discovered by the human mind, as the father of all knowledge, inventions, legislation, religion, etc. Hence every thing that man had discovered and committed to writing was regarded as the property of Hermes. As he was thus the source of all knowledge and thought, or the λόγος (logos) embodied, he was termed τρὶς μέγιστος (tris megistos), Hermes Trismegistus, or simply Trismegistus.

He was in the first centuries CE a central figure in a mystic-philosophic religious movement, which shows some affinity with neo-Pythagoreanism. The so-called Corpus Hermeticum contains writings from this movement.

The word hermetic ("airtight") is derived from Hermes Trismegistus, coming from a magic seal he supposedly invented.



  1. Plato. Philebus, 23; comp. Cicero. On the Nature of the Gods iii, 22.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.