Chaldaean Oracles, Zoroaster: Verses 25-27

The Monad first existed, and the Paternal Monad still subsists.

When the Monad is extended, the Dyad is generated.

And beside Him is seated the Dyad which glitters with intellectual sections, to govern all things, and to order everything not ordered.

Commentary on Verses 25-27

  1. Ambrose Mnemopolous Post author

    The formulae above can be found in Proclus in Euclidem, 27. T., and Proclus in Platonis Theologiam, 376. T.

    Damascius notes in De Principiis: “What the Pythagoreans signify by Monad, Duad and Triad, or Plato by Bound, Infinite and Mixed; that the Oracles of the Gods intend by Hyparxis, Power and Energy.”

  2. Ambrose Mnemopolous Post author

    In De Oraculis Chaldaicis (15), Wilhelm Kroll continues, echoing the Zoroastrian teaching: “All things have for their Father the One Fire. He is the all-embracing Monad who begets the two.”

    Isaac Preston Cory, in his Ancient Fragments, elaborates on the above sequence in verses 28-32.

  3. Ambrose Mnemopolous Post author

    The creation story above conceals a mathematical progression, illustrated by the Pythagorean tetractys, a series of dots arranged in a pyramid:

              •               = 1, 1
            •   •             = 2, 3
          •   •   •           = 3, 6
        •   •   •   •         = 4, 10

    The numbers following each row above indicate first the number of elements in that row, and second, the value of that row plus the previous rows. The “Pythagorean Sum,” as John Dee calls the sum of the entire sequence, is 10, considered to be a perfect number, containing all others. Since Pythagoras taught that “all is number” the tetractys is therefore considered as containing all creation.

    A more full exposition can be found in Iamblichus’s Life of Pythagoras.

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The Chaldaean Oracles have survived as fragmentary texts from the 2nd century AD, and consist mainly of Hellenistic commentary on a single mystery-poem that was believed to have originated in Chaldea (Babylonia). They appear to be a syncretic combination of Neoplatonic elements with Persian or Babylonian ideas. Zoroaster's authorship is traditional, and not generally accepted by scholars.