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Cosmic Gates (1)

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04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

cosmic gates
jānua deorum
jānua hominum
3th century CE
Hellenistic philosophers and scholars

Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs is an imago mundi. It is humid and lovely; its liquid element is of paramount importance for the descent of the soul into the corporeal world. Civil (p. 154) compares the long list of fish names to the naming of the beings by Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs 2, 4, 6:
(2) Through matter, therefore, the world is obscure and dark; but through the connecting power, and orderly distribution of form, from which also it is called world, it is beautiful and delightful. Hence it may be properly be denominated a cave. (6) This world, then, is sacred and pleasant to souls who have now proceeded into nature, and to natal dæmons, though it is essentially dark and obscure … Hence a cavern, which is both pleasant and dark, will be appropriately consecrated to souls on earth, conformably to its similitude to the world, in which, as in the greatest of all temples, souls reside. (4) For the ancients thought that these souls are incumbent on water which is inspired by divinity, as Numenius says, who adds, that on this account, a prophet asserts, that the Spirit of God moved on the waters.

Home of the Fish 1-4, 25-26:
(1-4) My fish, I have built you a home! My fish, I have built you a house, I have built you a store! I have built you a house bigger than a house, in fact a large sheepfold. Inside there is incense, and I have covered it with cloths for you; in this happy place, I …… water of joy for you. (25-26) Enter, my beloved son! Enter, my fine son!

Sources (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs 2-6
Home of the Fish 1-4
Home of the Fish 25-26


Civil 1961Civil, Miguel. “The Home of the Fish. A New Sumerian Literary Composition.” Iraq 23 (1961) 154-175. [JSTOR (requires subscription)]
Mander 1999Mander, Pietro. “Jānua Hominum et Deorum in the Sumerian Mythological Texts.” Annali dell’Istituto Universitario Orientale 59 (1999) 93-108.
Taylor 1917Taylor, Thomas. On the Cave of the Nymphs in the Thirteenth Book of the Odyssey. London: J. M. Watkins 1917.
Thomsen 1975Thomsen, Marie-Lousie. “'The Home of the Fish'. A New Interpretation.” Journal of Cuneiform Studies 27 (1975) 197-200. [JSTOR (requires subscription)]

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Cf. Cosmis Gates (2)
Cf. Cosmis Gates (3)

Pietro Mander

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