Fragments of a Forgotten Aiōn. An Outline of a Gnostic Myth


Gnostics regard the cosmos as the result of an «error» or of a hybris begotten in the transcendent world. Reality is perceived as a great dream intentionally moulded by the Demiurge in order to forget the Light concealed in the creations. By consequence, the power of the Demiurge consists precisely in being the creator and keeper of a level of existence limited in space and time. Gnostic imagination plastically depicts the homicide and ignorant Demiurge with the features of an abnormous creature with the head of a lion and wings, enveloped in the coils of a snake. Thus, Gnostics reinterpreted a key figure in the syncretic pantheon of late Hellenism, i. e. Aiōn, the god of endless eternity, the Saeculum, the Iranic  Zurwān, the Jewish ‘Olām. This means that Aiōn involved contacts with two different visions: the Aiōnes are the creations that populate the gnostic plērōma, immortal and eternal entities, and outside the plērōma the demiurgic Aiōn arises as the result of a divine «fault», a monstrous being whose somatic features can be found in the Orphic and Mithriac iconography.

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