Agrippa and Neo-Platonism

Agrippa’s first book of occult philosophy

mostly drew upon the influences of neo-Platonism and a bit from Hermetism, but very little from Judeo-Christian tradition.

In the second chapter Agrippa mentions philosophers who inspired his work:

Virgil, Apuleius, Zamolxis, Zoroaster, Abbaris the Hyperborean, Charmondas, Damigeron, Eudoxus, Hermippus, Mercurius Tresmegistus [Trismegistus], Porphyrius [Porphyry], Iamblicus [Iamblichus], Plotinus, Proclus, Dardanus, Orpheus the Thracian, Gog the Grecian, Germa the Babilonian [Babylonian], Apollonius of Tyana, Osthanes, Democritus of Abdera, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, and Plato.

Later in that book he also mentions:

Orus Apollo [Hieroglyphics], Epictetus, Æneas, Almadel, Naso, Melampus the Augure, Cicero, Lucan, Ovid, Cato and Celsus Africanus.

In fact, the list of teachers in the second chapter shows that there was a very complete wisdom tradition with little hint of Judeo-Christian tradition. In the general Judaeo-Christian elements come along later in the text, they seem a bit like an overlay, with already existing principles in place underneath.

For example, in Chapter 9, Agrippa basically follows the Platonists’ doctrine while writing about ideas and the world’s soul:

1. All inferior bodies are exemplified by the superiour Ideas. Idea is a form, above bodies, souls, minds, it is one, simple, pure, immutable, indivisible, incorporeal, and eternal, and it is placed in very goodness it self (i.e.) God.

2. The Soul of the world; all the Idea’s in God are one form: but in the Soul of the world they are many. They are placed in the minds of all other things, whether they be joined to the body, or separated from the body. They are placed in nature, as certain small seed of forms infused by the Idea’s, and in matter as shadows.

In the 5th chapter, where Agrippa quotes and refers to Hermes, Pythagoras, Dyonisius and Cicero, he also mentions ” the great Jehovah” by that name, but for the first time.

In Chapter 6, where Agrippa refers to Pliny, Ovid, Solinus, Pausanias and other ancient sources, he also finally mentions, for the first time, people from Judeo-Christian tradition such as: Moses, Jesus, historian Josephus and Jewish doctors.

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