The Gnostics

hermestrismegistusHermes Trismegistus (Greek: Ἑρμῆς ὁ Τρισμέγιστος, "thrice-great Hermes"; Latin: Mercurius ter Maximus)

"HERMES Trismegistus, (who was the author of the divine Pymander and some other books,) lived some time before Moses. He received the name of Trismegistus, or Mercurius ter Maximus, i. e. thrice greatest Intelligencer, because he was the first intelligencer who communicated celestial and divine knowledge to mankind by writing.

He was reported to have been king of Egypt; without doubt he was an Egyptian; nay, if you believe the Jews, even their Moses; and for the justification of this they urge, 1st, His being well skilled in chemistry; nay, the first who communicated that art to the sons of men; 2dly, They urge the philosophic work, viz. of rendering gold medicinal, or, finally, of the art of making aurum potabile; and, thirdly, of teaching the Cabala, which they say was shewn him by God on Mount Sinai: for all this is confessed to be originally written in Hebrew, which he would not have done had he not been an Hebrew, but rather in his vernacular tongue. But whether he was Moses or not, it is certain he was an Egyptian, even as Moses himself also was; and therefore for the age he lived in, we shall not fall short of the time if we conclude he flourished much about the time of Moses; and if he really was not the identical Moses, affirmed to be so by many, it is more than probable that he was king of Egypt; for being chief philosopher, he was, according to the Egyptian custom, initiated into the mysteries of priesthood, and from thence to the chief governor or king.

He was called Ter Maximus, as having a perfect knowledge of all things contained in the world (as his Aureus, or Golden Tractate, and his Divine Pymander shews) which things he divided into three kingdoms, viz. animal, vegetable, and mineral; in the knowledge and comprehension of which three he excelled and transmitted to posterity, in enigmas and symbols, the profound secrets of nature; likewise a true description of the Philosopher's Quintessence, or Universal Elixir, which he made as the receptacle of all celestial and terrestrial virtues. The Great Secret of the philosophers he discoursed on, which was found engraven upon a Smaragdine table, in the valley of Ebron." - Quoted from The Magus by Francis Barrett (London, 1801)