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Database: Ercole Massimo

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Date of Birth: 1474.
Profession: Hermeticist.

Born into what many historians believe to be the wealthiest family of Renaissance Rome, Ercole was the result of a lineage that traced its origins to a divine union between Hercules and a nymph. Following the rise of the family's namesake Maximus, who was an important Roman politician and soldier, the family went on to produce two popes, innumerable cardinals and ambassadors. The Massimo were also great patrons of the arts, the first printed book in Italy was produced in their Roman palazzo.

Ercole was no exception to the family tradition, he participated in the formation of a Roman library, and partnered with Agostino Chigi, the wealthy Roman banker, to help fund the arts. He even succeeded in convincing Pope Julius II to invite the great painter Perugino to the Vatican to help decorate the papal apartments.

At the age of thirty, it seems Ercole became heavily invested in the cult teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, whose writings had recently been translated by the Florentine scholar Marsilio Ficino. Along with all the new-age, geeky, mumbo-jumbo of practicing magic and alchemy, Hermeticists believed in the divine power of man, that man could contain the universe within him and vice versa, placing the Roman gods and the Christian/Judeo/Muslim god on the same level as man (notice how I was just politically correct there, it's born from fear, not from conviction, so don't get used to it). Ercole joined a hermetic society in Rome and seems to have devoted significant time to his activities there.

The appointment book from the Massimo palazzo library lists Leonardo Da Vinci as a frequent visitor. One entry describes him as "Leonardo, friend to His Excellency, Ercole." Perhaps Leonardo shared his search for the Pythagorean temple.

I wish I could tell you more, but secret societies don't usually leave records lying around for historians.

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