Wednesday, 29 April 2020

A true treasure: The Book of Figures Of Hermes

I've come across this following manuscript completely by accident, and what a wonderful accident it was. 


The Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel uploaded many of its manuscripts, among which is this beauty: Cod. Guelf. 30.1 Aug. 4°

Libri VII experimentorum magicorum Hermetis Trismegisti. Et sunt secreta magica regum Aegypti. Ex thesauro Rodolphi II Romanorum imperatorum dignissimi, that is The Seven Books of magical experiments of Hermes Trismegistus, from the treasury of the most-esteemed Roman Emperor Rudolph II.

The catalogue entry lists it as 17th century (certainly agreeing with the reign of Rudolf as a Holy Roman Emperor , 1776-1612) but most likely of a later redaction. 

The text is so far largely inaccessible to me due to language and script, except for a few more legible parts. 

The drawings are exquisite: 69 figures, mostly antropomorphic, with a very well rehearsed line in ink, with characters and names on their foreheads and chests. 

These are astrological images, inherited from the Arabic tradition, which are to be either drawn, either constructed of other materials, unde clearly indicated astrological times, to obtain specific results.


Fol. 24v



 Detail: Seals of Datsocy. 




Fol.28r


 Detail: Seals of Arornath.
Name on forehead: Hans 





 fol.37r


Detail: Seals of Yeotoreth
Names on forehead: Caros, Karon (Saron?) 


Other manuscripts, more or less complete:

Trithemius:   
[42] Est aliud volumen Hermetis de compositione imaginum, quod in plures libros dividitur, et continet Imagines Mercurii omniumque planetarum de annulis atque sigillis et sic incipit: Dixit expositor hujus libri, oportet quaerentem substantiam. Item Hermetis volumen aliud, in multos etiam libros divisum, quod praenotatur Liber Veneris, et continet varias compositiones, partim naturales, partim superstitiosas. Nec est finis vanitatum ejus. Incipit autem: Dixit compilator, quod Venus est. Et est alius liber Hermetis, qui praenotatur Liber Solis, continens similiter imagines, annulos, et characteres, et incipit: Lustravi imaginum scientias.16 Item est liber imaginum Martis, quem Hermeti similiter adscribunt, qui sic incipit: Hic est liber Martis, quem tractat Hermes. Est etiam alius ejusdem liber Jovis, qui sic incipit: Hic est liber Jovis, quem tractat Hermes. Item liber Saturni, qui sic incipit: Hic est liber Saturni, quem tractat Hermes. Est etiam alius ejusdem de imaginum compositione liber, qui sic incipit: Tractatus octavus in magisterio imaginum Hermetis. Et est liber Hermetis de annulis VII planetarum, de qua Picatris multa suscepit, qui sic incipit: Divisio lunae, quando semiplena fuerit.

Darmstadt Hs1410: 54r -66v  Translated from Arabic by ”Robertem Castrensem”, Robert of Chester, active in Spain in the kingdom of Navarre in the 1140s. 

1410, 19r-34r liber lunae, solis, martis, iovis saturni

firenze ii iii 214, 15r-23v liber lunae, solis, saturni

lubeck stadtsbibliothek math. 4 9, 1589, cart 174, 11r-119v

vatican, b a v , lat 10803, ff 215, 60r-62v, martis iovis


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