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Title: A History of Magic and Experimental Science (Vol. II): During the First Thirteen Centuries of Our Era
Author: Thorndike, Lynn
Language: English
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Copyright 1923 Columbia University Press
First published by The Macmillan Company 1923

ISBN 0-231-08795-0
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7



  CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

  35. The Early Scholastics: Peter Abelard and Hugh of St.
      Victor                                                     3

  36. Adelard of Bath                                           14

  37. William of Conches                                        50

  38. Some Twelfth Century Translators, Chiefly of Astrology
      from the Arabic                                           66

  39. Bernard Silvester; Astrology and Geomancy                 99

  40. Saint Hildegard of Bingen                                124

  41. John of Salisbury                                        155

  42. Daniel of Morley and Roger of Hereford                   171

  43. Alexander Neckam on the Natures of Things                188

  44. Moses Maimonides                                         205

  45. Hermetic Books in the Middle Ages                        214

  46. Kiranides                                                229

  47. Prester John and the Marvels of India                    236

  48. The Pseudo-Aristotle                                     246

  49. Solomon and the Ars Notoria                              279

  50. Ancient and Medieval Dream-Books                         290


      Foreword                                                 305

  51. Michael Scot                                             307

  52. William of Auvergne                                      338

  53. Thomas of Cantimpré                                      372

  54. Bartholomew of England                                   401

  55. Robert Grosseteste                                       436

  56. Vincent of Beauvais                                      457

  57. Early Thirteenth Century Medicine: Gilbert of England
      and William of England                                   477

  58. Petrus Hispanus                                          488

  59. Albertus Magnus                                          517
        I. Life                                                521
       II. As a Scientist                                      528
      III. His Allusions to Magic                              548
       IV. Marvelous Virtues in Nature                         560
        V. Attitude Toward Astrology                           577

  60. Thomas Aquinas                                           593

  61. Roger Bacon                                              616
        I. Life                                                619
       II. Criticism of and Part in Medieval Learning          630
      III. Experimental Science                                649
       IV. Attitude Toward Magic and Astrology                 659

  62. The Speculum Astronomiae                                 692

  63. Three Treatises Ascribed to Albert                       720

  64. Experiments and Secrets: Medical and Biological          751

  65. Experiments and Secrets: Chemical and Magical            777

  66. Picatrix                                                 813

  67. Guido Bonatti and Bartholomew of Parma                   825

  68. Arnald of Villanova                                      841

  69. Raymond Lull                                             862

  70. Peter of Abano                                           874

  71. Cecco d’Ascoli                                           948

  72. Conclusion                                               969

        General                                                985
        Bibliographical                                       1007
        Manuscripts                                           1027




  Chapter 35. The Early Scholastics: Peter Abelard and Hugh of
              St. Victor.

  Chapter 36. Adelard of Bath.

  Chapter 37. William of Conches.

  Chapter 38. Some Twelfth Century Translators, chiefly of Astrology
              from the Arabic in Spain.

  Chapter 39. Bernard Silvester: Astrology and Geomancy.

  Chapter 40. St. Hildegard of Bingen.

  Chapter 41. John of Salisbury.

  Chapter 42. Daniel of Morley and Roger of Hereford; or, Astrology in
              England in the Second Half of the Twelfth Century.

  Chapter 43. Alexander Neckam on the Natures of Things.

  Chapter 44. Moses Maimonides.

  Chapter 45. Hermetic Books in the Middle Ages.

  Chapter 46. Kiranides.

  Chapter 47. Prester John and the Marvels of India.

  Chapter 48. The Pseudo-Aristotle.

  Chapter 49. Solomon and the Ars Notoria.

  Chapter 50. Ancient and Medieval Dream-Books.



Relation of scholastic theology to our theme--Character of Abelard’s
learning--Incorrect statements of his views--The nature of the
stars--Prediction of natural and contingent events--The Magi and the
star--Demons and forces in nature--Magic and natural science--Hugh of
St. Victor--Character of the _Didascalicon_--Meaning of _Physica_--The
study of history--The two mathematics: astrology, natural and
superstitious--The superlunar and sublunar worlds--Discussion of
magic--Five sub-divisions of magic--_De bestiis et aliis rebus_.

[Sidenote: Relation of scholastic theology to our theme.]

The names of Peter Abelard, 1079-1142, and Hugh or Hugo of St. Victor,
1096-1141, have been coupled as those of the two men who perhaps
more than any others were the founders of scholastic theology. Our
investigation is not very closely or directly concerned with scholastic
theology, which I hope to show did not so exclusively absorb the
intellectual energy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as has
sometimes been asserted. Our attention will be mainly devoted as
heretofore to the pursuit of natural science during that period and the
prominence both of experimental method and of magic in the same. But
our investigation deals not only with magic and experimental science,
but with their relation to Christian thought. It is therefore with
interest that we turn to the works of these two early representatives
of scholastic theology, and inquire what cognizance, if any, they take
of the subjects in which we are especially interested. As we proceed
into the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries in subsequent chapters,
we shall also take occasion to note the utterances of other leading men
of learning who speak largely from the theological standpoint, like
John of Salisbury and Thomas Aquinas. Let us hasten to admit also
that the scholastic method of instruction and writing made itself felt
in natural science and medicine as well as in theology, as a number
of our subsequent chapters will illustrate. In the present chapter we
shall furthermore be brought again into contact with the topic of the
_Physiologus_ and Latin Bestiaries, owing to the fact that a treatise
of this sort has been ascribed, although probably incorrectly, to Hugh
of St. Victor.

[Sidenote: Character of Abelard’s learning.]

There is no more familiar, and possibly no more important, figure in
the history of Latin learning during the twelfth century than Peter
Abelard who flourished at its beginning. His career, as set forth in
his own words, illustrates educational conditions in Gaul at that time.
His brilliant success as a lecturer on logic and theology at Paris
reveals the great medieval university of that city in embryo. His
pioneer work, _Sic et Non_, set the fashion for the standard method
of presentation employed in scholasticism. He was not, however, the
only daring and original spirit of his time; his learned writings were
almost entirely in those fields known as patristic and scholastic; and,
as in the case of _Sic et Non_, consist chiefly in a repetition of the
utterances of the fathers. This is especially true of his statements
concerning astrology, the _magi_, and demons. To natural science he
gave little or no attention. Nevertheless his intellectual prominence
and future influence make it advisable to note what position he took
upon these points.

[Sidenote: Incorrect statements of his views.]

Although not original, his views concerning the stars and their
influences are the more essential to expose, because writers upon
Abelard have misunderstood and consequently misinterpreted them.
Joseph McCabe in his Life of Abelard,[1] for instance, asserts that
Abelard calls mathematics diabolical in one of his works. And Charles
Jourdain in his in some ways excellent[2] _Dissertation sur l’état
de la philosophie naturelle en occident et principalement en France
pendant la première moitié du XIIe siècle_, praises Abelard for what
he regards as an admirable attack upon and criticism of astrology in
his _Expositio in Hexameron_, saying, “It will be hard to find in the
writers of a later age anything more discriminating on the errors of
astrology.”[3] Jourdain apparently did not realize the extent to which
Abelard was simply repeating the writers of an earlier age. However,
Abelard’s presentation possesses a certain freshness and perhaps
contains some original observations.

[Sidenote: The nature of the stars.]

In the passage in question[4] Abelard first discusses the nature of
the stars. He says that it is no small question whether the planets
are animated, as the philosophers think, and have spirits who control
their motion, or whether they hold their unvarying course merely by
the will and order of God. Philosophers do not hesitate to declare
them rational, immortal, and impassive animals, and the Platonists
call them not only gods but gods of gods, as being more excellent and
having greater efficacy than the other stars. Moreover, Augustine says
in his _Handbook_ that he is uncertain whether to class the sun, moon,
and stars with the angels. In his _Retractions_ Augustine withdrew
his earlier statement that this world is an animal, as Plato and
other philosophers believe, not because he was sure it was false, but
because he could not certainly prove it true either by reason or by
the authority of divine scripture. Abelard does not venture to state
an opinion of his own, but he at least has done little to refute a
view of the nature of the heavenly bodies which is quite favorable to,
and usually was accompanied by, astrology. Also he displays the wonted
medieval respect for the opinions of the philosophers in general and
the leaning of the twelfth century toward Plato in particular.

[Sidenote: Prediction of natural and contingent events.]

Abelard next comes to the problem of the influence of the stars upon
this earth and man. He grants that the stars control heat and cold,
drought and moisture; he accepts the astrological division of the
heavens into houses, in certain ones of which each planet exerts its
maximum of force; and he believes that men skilled in knowledge of the
stars can by astronomy predict much concerning the future of things
having natural causes. Astronomical observations to his mind are very
valuable not only in agriculture but in medicine, and he mentions that
Moses himself is believed to have been very skilful in this science of
the Egyptians. It is only to the attempt to predict _contingentia_ as
distinguished from _naturalia_ that he objects. By _contingentia_ he
seems to mean events in which chance and divine providence or human
choice and free will are involved. He gives as a proof that astrologers
cannot predict such events the fact that, while they will foretell to
you what other persons will do, they refuse to tell you openly which
of two courses you yourself will pursue for fear that you may prove
them wrong by wilfully doing the contrary to what they predict. Or, if
an astrologer is able to predict such “contingent events,” it must be
because the devil has assisted him, and hence Abelard declares that he
who promises anyone certitude concerning “contingent happenings” by
means of “astronomy” is to be considered not so much _astronomicus_ as
_diabolicus_. This is the nearest approach that I have been able to
find in Abelard’s writings to McCabe’s assertion that he once called
mathematics diabolical. But possibly I have overlooked some other
passage where Abelard calls _mathematica_, in the sense of divination,
diabolical.[5] In any case Abelard rejects astrology only in part and
accepts it with certain qualifications. His attitude is about the
average one of his own time and of ages preceding and following.

[Sidenote: The Magi and the star.]

Abelard speaks of the Magi and the star of Bethlehem in a sermon for
Epiphany.[6] This familiar theme, as we have seen, had often occupied
the pens of the church fathers, so that Abelard has nothing new to
say. On the contrary, he exhausts neither the authorities nor the
subject in the passages which he selects for repetition. His first
point is that the Magi were fittingly the first of the Gentiles to
become Christian converts because they before had been the masters
of the greatest error, condemned by law with soothsayers to death,
and indebted for their “nefarious and execrable doctrine” to demons.
In short, Abelard identifies them with magicians and takes that word
in the worst sense. He is aware, however, that some identify them
not with sorcerers (_malefici_) but with astronomers. He repeats the
legend from the spurious homily of Chrysostom which we have already
recounted[7] of how the magi had for generations watched for the star,
warned by the writing of Seth which they possessed, and how the star
finally appeared in the form of a little child with a cross above it
and spake with them. He also states that they were called _magici_ in
their tongue because they glorified God in silence, without appearing
to note that this is contrary to his previous use of _magi_ in an evil
sense. Abelard believes that a new star announced the birth of Christ,
the heavenly king, although he grants that comets, which we read of as
announcing the deaths of earthly sovereigns, are not new stars. He also
discusses without satisfactory results the question why this new star
was seen only by the Magi.

[Sidenote: Demons and forces in nature.]

In a chapter “On the Suggestions of Demons” in his _Ethica seu Scito te
ipsum_,[8] Abelard attempts to a certain extent a natural explanation
of the tempting of men by demons and the arousing of lust and other
evil passions within us. In this he perhaps makes his closest approach
to the standpoint of natural science, although he is simply repeating
an idea found already in Augustine and other church fathers. In plants
and seeds and trees and stones, Abelard explains, there reside many
forces adapted to arouse or calm our passions. The demons, owing to
their subtle ingenuity and their long experience with the natures
of things, are acquainted with all these occult properties and make
use of them for their own evil ends. Thus they sometimes, by divine
permission, send men into trances or give remedies to those making
supplications to them, “and often when such cease to feel pain, they
are believed to be cured.” Abelard also mentions the marvels which the
demons worked in Egypt in opposition to Moses by means of Pharaoh’s

[Sidenote: Magic and natural science.]

Evidently then Abelard believes both in the existence of demons and
of occult virtues in nature by which marvels may be worked. Magic
avails itself both of demonic and natural forces. The demons are more
thoroughly acquainted with the secrets of nature than are men. But
this does not prove that scientific research is necessarily diabolical
or that anyone devoting himself to investigation of nature is giving
himself over to demons. The inevitable conclusion is rather that if
men will practice the same long experimentation and will exercise the
same “subtle ingenuity” as the demons have, there is nothing to prevent
them, too, from becoming at last thoroughly acquainted with the natural
powers of things. Also magic, since it avails itself of natural forces,
is akin to natural science, while natural science may hope some day
to rival both the knowledge of the demons and the marvels of magic.
Abelard does not go on to draw any of these conclusions, but other
medieval writers were to do so before very long.

[Sidenote: Hugh of St. Victor.]

Upon Hugh of St. Victor Vincent of Beauvais in the century following
looked back as “illustrious in religion and knowledge of literature”
and as “second to no one of his time in skill in the seven liberal
arts.”[9] Hugh was Abelard’s younger contemporary, born almost twenty
years later in Saxony in 1096 but dying a year before Abelard in 1141.
His uncle, the bishop of Halberstadt, had preceded him at Paris as
a student under William of Champeaux. When Hugh, as an Augustinian
canon, reached the monastery of St. Victor at Paris, William had
ceased to teach and become a bishop. Hugh was himself chosen head
of the school in 1133. He is famous as a mystic, but also composed
exegetical and dogmatic works, and is noted for his classification
of the sciences. Edward Myers well observes in this connection:
“Historians of philosophy are now coming to see that it betrays a lack
of psychological imagination to be unable to figure the subjective
coexistence of Aristotelian dialectics with mysticism of the Victorine
or Bernardine type--and even their compenetration. Speculative thought
was not, and could not be, isolated from religious life lived with such
intensity as it was in the middle ages, when that speculative thought
was active everywhere, in every profession, in every degree of the
social scale.”[10] Later, in the case of St. Hildegard of Bingen, we
shall meet an even more striking combination of mysticism and natural

[Sidenote: Character of the _Didascalicon_.]

Of Hugh’s writings we shall be chiefly concerned with the
_Didascalicon_, or _Eruditio didascalica_,[11] a brief work whose six
books occupy some seventy columns in Migne’s _Patrologia_. It is
especially devoted, as its first chapter clearly states, to instructing
the student what to read and how to read. On the whole, especially
for its early twelfth century date, it is a clear, systematic, and
sensible treatise, which shows that medieval men were wider readers
than has often been supposed and that they had some sound ideas on how
to study. In order to have a basis for systematic study, Hugh describes
and classifies the various arts and sciences, mechanical and liberal,
theoretical and practical. He is possibly influenced in his definitions
and derivations by Isidore’s _Etymologies_, although he seldom if ever
acknowledges the debt, whereas he cites Boethius a number of times,
but at least his classification and arrangement of material are quite
different from Isidore’s. In this description and classification,
and indeed throughout the treatise, Hugh seems to display no little
originality of thought and arrangement--once he tells us of his own
methods of study[12]--although his facts and details are mostly
familiar ones from ancient authors and although he of course embodies
generally accepted notions such as the _trivium_ and _quadrivium_.

[Sidenote: Meaning of _physica_.]

To the four subjects of the _quadrivium_ he adds _physica_ or
_physiologia_,[13] which he says “considers and investigates the causes
of things in their effects and their effects in their causes.” He
quotes from Vergil’s _Georgics_, (II, 479-)

    “Whence earthquakes come, what force disturbs the deep,
    Virtues of herbs, the minds and wraths of brutes,
    All kinds of fruits, of reptiles, too, and gems.”

Thus _Physica_ is more inclusive than the modern science of Physics,
while Hugh evidently does not employ it in the specific sense of the
art of medicine, of which the word _physica_ was sometimes used in the
medieval period. Hugh goes on to say that _Physica_ is sometimes still
more broadly interpreted to designate natural philosophy in contrast to
logical and ethical philosophy. His quotation from the _Georgics_ also
causes one to reflect on the prominent part played in natural science
from before Vergil to after Hugh by the semi-human characteristics
ascribed to animals and the occult virtues ascribed to herbs and gems.

[Sidenote: The study of history.]

Hugh’s attitude to history is interesting to note in passing. In
his classification of the sciences he does not assign it a distinct
place as he does to economics and politics, but he shows his inchoate
sense of the importance of the history of science and of thought by
attempting a list of the founders of the various arts and sciences.[14]
In this connection he adopts the theory of the origin of the Etruscans
at present in favor with scholars, that they came from Lydia. He
regards the study of Biblical or sacred history as the first essential
for a theologian, who should learn history from beginning to end before
he proceeds to doctrine and allegory.[15] Four essential points to note
in studying history in Hugh’s opinion are the person, the event, the
time, and the place.

[Sidenote: The two mathematics: astrology, natural and superstitious.]

In discussing the _quadrivium_ Hugh explains the significance of the
terms, _mathematica_, _astronomia_, and _astrologia_. _Mathematica_, in
which the first letter “t” has the aspirate, denotes sound doctrine and
the science of abstract quantity, and embraces within itself the four
subjects of the _quadrivium_. In other words it denotes mathematics in
our sense of the word. But _matesis_, spelled without the aspirate,
signifies that superstitious vanity which places the fate of man under
the constellations.[16] Hugh thus allows for the common use since the
time of the Roman Empire of the word _mathematicus_ for an astrologer,
and the frequent use of _mathematica_ in the sense of the Greek word
_mantike_ or divination. He correctly states the Greek derivation of
astrology and astronomy and employs those words in just about their
modern sense. Astrology considers the stars in order to determine
the nativity, death, and certain other events. For Hugh, however, it
is not wholly a superstition, but “partly natural science, partly
a superstition,” since he believes that the condition of the human
body as well as of other bodies depends upon the constellations, and
that sickness and health as well as storms or fair weather, fertility
and sterility, can be predicted from the stars, but that it is
superstitious to assert their control over contingent events and acts
of free will,--the same distinction as that made by Abelard.

[Sidenote: The superlunar and sublunar worlds.]

In an earlier discussion of the universe above and beneath the moon[17]
Hugh had further emphasized the superiority of the heavenly bodies
and their power over earthly life and nature. He distinguished three
kinds of beings: God the Creator (_solus naturae genitor et artifex_)
who alone is without beginning or end and truly eternal, the bodies of
the superlunar world which have a beginning but no end and are called
perpetual and divine, and sublunar and terrestrial things which have
both a beginning and an end. The mathematicians call the superlunar
world nature, and the sublunar world the work of nature, because all
life and growth in it comes “through invisible channels from the
superior bodies.” They also call the upper world time, because of
the movements of the heavenly bodies in it determining time, and the
lower world temporal, because it is moved according to the superior
motions. They further call the superlunar world Elysium on account of
its perpetual light and peace, while they call the other _Infernum_
because of its confusion and constant fluctuation. Hugh adds that he
has touched upon these points in order to show man that, in so far as
he shares in this world of change, he is like it, subject to necessity,
while in so far as he is immortal he is related to the Godhead.

[Sidenote: Discussion of magic.]

Hugh’s brief, but clear and pithy, account of magic occurs in the
closing chapter of his sixth and last book,[18] and seems to be rather
in the nature of an _addendum_. It is, indeed, missing from the
_Didascalicon_ in some of the earliest manuscripts[19] and is found
separately in the same collection of manuscripts, so that possibly it
is not by Hugh. At any rate, magic is treated by itself apart from
his previous description and classification of the arts and sciences
and listing of their founders. The definition of magic makes it clear
why it is thus segregated: “Magic is not included in philosophy, but
is a distinct subject, false in its professions, mistress of all
iniquity and malice, deceiving concerning the truth and truly doing
harm; it seduces souls from divine religion, promotes the worship of
demons, engenders corruption of morals, and impels the minds of its
followers to every crime and abomination.” Hugh had prefaced this
definition by much the usual meager history of the origin of magic to
be found in Isidore and other writers, but his definition proper seems
rather original in its form and in a way admirable in its attitude.
The ancient classical feeling that magic was evil and the Christian
prejudice against it as the work of demons still play a large part
in his summary of the subject, but to these two points that magic
is hostile to Christianity or irreligious, and that it is improper,
immoral, and criminal, he adds the other two points that it is not a
part of philosophy--in other words, it is unscientific, and that it is
more or less untrue and unreal. Or these four points may be reduced to
two: since law, religion, and learning unite in condemning magic, it is
unsocial in every respect; and it is more or less untrue, unreal, and

[Sidenote: Five subdivisions of magic.]

Hugh’s list of various forbidden and occult arts which are
sub-divisions of magic is somewhat similar to that of Isidore, but he
classifies and groups them logically under five main heads in a way
which appears to be partly his own, and which was followed by other
subsequent writers, such as Roger Bacon. His first three main heads
all deal with arts of divination. _Mantike_ divides as usual into
necromancy, geomancy, hydromancy, aerimancy, and pyromancy. Under
_mathematica_ are listed _aruspicina_, or the observation of hours
(_horae_) or of entrails (_hara_); augury, or observation of birds; and
_horoscopia_, or the observation of nativities. The third main head,
_sortilegia_, deals with divination by lots. The fourth main head,
_maleficia_, with which magic has already been twice identified in the
chapter, is now described by Hugh as “the performance of evil deeds
by incantations to demons, or by ligatures or any other accursed kind
of remedies with the co-operation and instruction of demons.”[20]
Fifth and last come _praestigia_, in which “by phantastic illusions
concerning the transformation of objects the human senses are deceived
by demoniacal art.”[21]

[Sidenote: _De bestiis et aliis rebus._]

Among the doubtful and spurious works ascribed to Hugh is a bestiary
in four books,[22] in which various birds and beasts are described,
and spiritual and moral applications are made from them. At least
this is the character of the first part of the treatise; towards the
close it becomes simply a glossary of all sorts of natural objects.
_Physiologus_ is often cited for the natural properties of birds
and beasts, but as we have already dealt with the problem of the
_Physiologus_ in an earlier chapter, and as we shall sufficiently deal
with the properties and natures ascribed to animals in the middle ages
in describing the treatment of them by various encyclopedists like
Thomas of Cantimpré, Bartholomew of England, and Albertus Magnus, we
are at present mainly interested in some other features of the treatise
before us. It is often illustrated with illuminations of birds and
animals in the manuscripts and was originally intended to be so, as
the prologue on the hawk and dove by its monkish author to a noble
convert, Raynerus, makes evident. “Wishing to satisfy the petitions
of your desire, I decided to paint the dove whose ‘wings are covered
with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold,’ and to edify minds by
painting, in order that what the simple mind can scarcely grasp by the
eye of the intellect, it might at least discern with the carnal eye,
and vision perceive what hearing could scarcely comprehend. However,
I wished not only to depict the dove graphically but to describe it
in words and to explain the painting by writing, so that he whom the
simplicity of the picture did not please might at least be pleased by
the morality of Scripture.” Indeed, the work is often entitled _The
Gilded Dove_ in the manuscripts. The treatise is manifestly of a
religious and popular rather than scientific character. One interesting
passage states that a monk should not practice medicine because “a
doctor sometimes sees things which are not decent to see,” and “touches
what it is improper for the religious to touch.” Furthermore, a
physician “speaks of uncertain matters by means of experiments, but
experience is deceitful and so often errs. But this is not fitting for
a monk that he should speak aught but the truth.”[23] It is rather
surprising to find free will attributed to the wild beasts, who are
said to wander about at their will.[24] This passage, however, is
simply copied from Isidore.[25]


[1] J. McCabe, _Peter Abelard_, New York, 1901.

[2] Especially considering its date, Paris, 1838.

[3] _Ibid._, p. 119.

[4] Cousin, _Opera hactenus seorsim edita_ (1849-1859), I, 647-9.

[5] I have, however, searched for such in vain.

[6] Migne, PL 178, 409-17.

[7] See above, chapter 20, page 474.

[8] Cap. 4, in Migne, PL 178, 647.

[9] _Speculum doctrinale_ (1472?), XVIII, 62, “Hugo Parisiensis sancti
victoris canonicus religione et literarum scientia clarus et in VII
liberalium artium peritia nulli sui temporis secundus fuit.”

[10] CE “Hugh of St. Victor,” where is also given a good bibliography
of works on Hugh’s theology, philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy.

[11] I have employed the text in Migne PL vol. 176, cols. 739-812.
It should be noted, however, that B. Hauréau, _Les Œuvres de Hugues
de Saint-Victor, Essai critique, nouvelle edition_, Paris, 1886,
demonstrated that there should be only six books of the _Didascalicon_
instead of seven as in this edition and that of 1648. This will not
affect our investigation, as we shall make no use of the seventh book,
but we shall have later to discuss whether a passage on magic belongs
at the close of the sixth book or not. There appears to be a somewhat
general impression that the edition of 1648 is the earliest edition of
Hugh’s works, but the British Museum has an undated incunabulum of the
“Didascolon” numbered IB. 859, fol. 254.

Vincent of Beauvais in the thirteenth century speaks of the
“Didascolon” as in five books (_Speculum doctrinale_, XVIII, 62) but
is probably mistaken. The MSS seem uniformly to divide the work into a
prologue and six books, as in the following at Oxford:

New College 144, 11th (_sic_) century, folio bene exaratus et servatus,
fols. 105-43, “Incipit prologus in Didascalicon.”

Jesus College 35, 12th century, fol. 26-

St. John’s 98, 14th century, fol. 123-

Corpus Christi 223, 15th century, fol. 73-

I have not noted what MSS of the _Didascalicon_ there are in the
British Museum. The following MSS elsewhere may be worth listing as of
early date:

Grenoble 246, 12th century, fols. 99-133.

BN 13334, 12th century, fol. 52-, de arte didascalica, is probably our
treatise, although the catalogue names no author.

BN 15256, 13th century, fol. 128-.

Still other MSS will be mentioned in a subsequent note.

[12] _Didasc._ VI, 3.

[13] _Ibid._, II, 17.

[14] _Didasc._ III, 2.

[15] _Ibid._, VI, 3.

[16] A similar distinction will be found in the _Glosses on the
Timaeus_ of William of Conches (Cousin, _Ouvrages inédits d’Abélard_,
1836, p. 649), one of Hugh’s contemporaries of whom we shall presently
treat. A little later in the twelfth century John of Salisbury
(_Polycraticus_, II, 18) makes the distinction between the two
_mateses_ or mathematics lie rather in the quantity of the penultimate
vowel “e”. In the thirteenth century Albertus Magnus (_Commentary
on Matthew_, II, 1) also distinguished between the two varieties of
mathematics according to the length of the “e” in “_mathesis_”; but he
did not regard the second variety as necessarily superstitious, but
as divination from the stars which might be either good or bad, like
Hugh’s _astrologia_.

Roger Bacon mentioned both methods of distinction between the true and
false mathematics; but statements in his different works are not in
agreement as to which case it is in which the “e” is long or short. In
the _Opus Maius_ (Bridges, I, 239 and note) and _Opus Tertium_ (caps. 9
and 65) he states that the vowel is short in the true mathematics and
long in the superstitious variety; but in other writings he took the
opposite view and declared that “all the Latins” were wrong in thinking
otherwise (see Bridges, I, 239 note; Steele (1920) viii).

In a twelfth century MS at Munich (CLM 19488, pp. 17-23) a treatise or
perhaps an excerpt from some longer work, entitled _De differentiis
vocabulorum_, opens with the words, “Scire facit mathesis et divinare
mathesis.” Roger Bacon says (Steele, 1920, p. 3), “Set glomerelli
nescientes Grecum ... ex magna sua ignorancia vulgaverunt hos versus

Scire facit matesis, set divinare mathesis; Philosophi matesim, magici
dixere mathesim.”

[17] _Didascalicon_, I, 7.

[18] _Didasc._ VI, 15 (Migne PL 176, 810-12).

[19] BN nouv. acq. 1429, 12th century, fols. iv-23, and CLM 2572,
written between 1182 and 1199; both end with the thirteenth chapter of
Book VI, or at col. 809 in Migne. St. John’s 98, 14th century, fol.
145v, also ends at this point. Jesus College 35, 12th century, is
mutilated at the close.

Other early MSS, however, include the passage on magic in the
_Didascalicon_, and end the sixth book with the closing words of the
account of magic, “Hydromancy first came from the Persians”: see
Vitry-le-François 19, 12th century, fols. 1-46; Mazarine 717, 13th
century, #9, closing at fol. 97v.

The passage on magic is also cited as Hugh’s by Robert Kilwardby,
archbishop of Canterbury 1272-1279, in his work on the division of the
sciences, cap. 67: MSS are Balliol 3; Merton 261.

In Cortona 35, 15th century, fol. 203, the _Didascalicon_ in six books
is first followed by a brief passage, _Divisio philosophie
continentium_, which is perhaps simply the fourteenth chapter
of the sixth book as printed in Migne, and then at fol. 224 by the
passage concerning magic and its subdivisions.

The account of magic also occurs in MSS which do not contain the
_Didascalicon_, for instance, Vatic. Palat. Lat. 841, 13th century,
fol. 139r, “Magice artis quinque sunt species....”

[20] “Malefici sunt qui per incantationes daemonicas sive ligaturas vel
alia quaecunque exsecrabilia remediorum genera cooperatione daemonum
atque instructu nefanda perficiunt.”

[21] “Praestigia sunt quando per phantasticas illusiones circa rerum
immutationem sensibus humanis arte daemoniaca illuditur.”

[22] Migne, PL 177, 13-164, “Hugo Raynero suo salutem. Desiderii tui
petitionibus, charissime, satisfacere cupiens....”

[23] I, 45. “De incertis per experimenta loquitur, sed experimentum est
fallax, ideo saepe fallitur. Sed hoc religioso non expedit ut alia quam
vera loquatur.”

[24] II, prologus. “Ferae appellantur eo quod naturali utantur
libertate et desiderio suo ferantur. Sunt enim liberae eorum voluntates
et huc atque illuc vagantur et quo animus duxerit eo feruntur.”

[25] _Etymologiarum_, XII, ii, 2.



The _De bestiis et aliis rebus_ or _Columba deargentata_ appears with
other opuscula of Hugh of St. Victor or Hugh of Folieto in

 Vendôme 156, 12th century, fol. 1v--, “Libellus cuiusdam ad
   fratrem Rainerum corde benignum qui Columba deargentata
   inscribitur. Desiderii tui, karissime, petitionibus

 Dijon anciens fonds 225, 12th century, fols. 92v-98,
   “Prologus Hugonis prioris in librum de tribus columbis.
   Desiderii tui, karissime, petitionibus satisfacere....”

Cambridge University has several copies, most of which seem to differ
from the printed edition and from one another.

 CUL 1574, 15th century, Liber de bestiis et aliis rebus;
   the arrangement is said to be very different from that in

 CUL 1823, 12th century, “Liber bestiarum”; similar in text
   to the foregoing, but with a different order of chapters,
   “and there are both large omissions and insertions.” The
   numerous figures of animals in outline “are remarkable for
   their finish and vigor.”

 CUL 2040, late 13th century, fols. 50-93, “De natura
   animantium”; said to be “substantially the same as that
   of Hugo de S. Victore; the arrangement, however, is very

 CU Sidney Sussex 100, 13th century, James’s description
   (pp. 115-7) shows it to be our treatise; for its fine
   miniatures see James (1895) pp. 117-20.

A few other MSS (doubtless the list can be greatly augmented) are:

 Vitry-le-François 23, 13th century, fols. 1-23, illuminated,
   “Incipit libellus cuiusdam ad Rainerum conversum cognomine
   Corde Benignum. Incipit de tribus columbis. Si dormiatis
   inter medios cleros ...”; it closes without Explicit, “...
   per bonam operationem conformem reddit.” Then follows at
   fol. 23v, “Incipit tractatus Hugonis de Folieto prioris
   canonicorum Sancti Laurentii in pago Ambianensi de
   claustro anime....”

 Vitry-le-François 63, 13th century, fol. 1-, “De tribus
   columbis ad Raynerum conversum cognomento Corde Benignum
   seu de natura avium....”; followed at fol. 7-, by portions
   of De claustro anime.

 BN 12321, 13th century, fol. 215v (where it follows works
   by St. Bernard), De naturis avium ad Rainerum conversum
   cognomine Corde benignum.

 Bourges 121, 13th century, fol. 128-, “Libellus cuiusdam
   (Hugonis de Folieto) ad fratrem Rainerum corde benignum
   qui Columba deargentata inscribitur.”

 CLM 15407, 14th century, fol. 46, Libellus qui “Columba
   deargentata” inscribitur, etc.

 CLM 18368, anno 1385, fol. 121, Hugonis de S. Victore
   Columba deargentata; fol. 124, Eiusdem avicularius.



 Place in medieval learning--Some dates in his
 career--Mathematical treatises--Adelard and
 alchemy--Importance of the _Natural Questions_--Occasion
 of writing--Arabic versus Gallic learning--“Modern
 discoveries”--Medieval work wrongly credited to Greek and
 Arab--Illustrated from the history of alchemy--Science and
 religion--Reason versus authority--Need of the telescope
 and microscope already felt--Some quaint speculative
 science--Warfare, science, and religion--Specimens of
 medieval scientific curiosity--Theory of sound--Theory of
 vision--Deductive reasoning from hot and cold, moist and
 dry--Refinement of the four elements hypothesis--Animal
 intelligence doubted--The earth’s shape and center of
 gravity--Indestructibility of matter--Also stated by Hugh
 of St. Victor--Roger Bacon’s continuity of universal
 nature--Previously stated by Adelard--Experiment and
 magic--Adelard and Hero of Alexandria--Attitude to the
 stars: _De eodem et diverso_--Attitude to the stars:
 _Questiones naturales_--Astrology in an anonymous
 work, perhaps by Athelardus--Authorities concerning
 spirits--Adelard’s future influence--Appendix I. The
 problem of dating the _De eodem et diverso_ and _Questiones
 naturales_ and of their relations to each other--Difficulty
 of the problem--Before what queen did Adelard play the
 _cithara_?--Circumstances under which the _De eodem et
 diverso_ was written--Different situation depicted in
 the _Natural Questions_--Some apparent indications that
 the _De eodem et diverso_ was written after the _Natural
 Questions_--How long had Henry I been reigning?

 “_Quare, si quid amplius a me audire desideras, rationem
 refer et recipe._”

                        --_Questiones naturales, cap. 6._

[Sidenote: Place in medieval learning.]

While the Breton, Abelard, and the Saxon, Hugh of St. Victor, were
reviewing patristic literature from somewhat new angles and were
laying the foundations of scholastic method, an Englishman, Adelard
of Bath,[26] was primarily interested in exploring the fields of
mathematical and natural science. As Hugh came from Saxony to Paris
and Abelard went forth from his native Brittany through the towns of
France in quest of Christian teachers, so Adelard, leaving not only his
home in England but the schools of Gaul where he had been teaching,
made a much more extensive intellectual pilgrimage even to lands
Mohammedan. “It is worth while,” he declares in one of his works, “to
visit learned men of different nations, and to remember whatever you
find is most excellent in each case. For what the schools of Gaul do
not know, those beyond the Alps reveal; what you do not learn among
the Latins, well-informed Greece will teach you.”[27] Adelard seems to
have devoted himself especially to Arabian learning and to have made
a number of translations from the Arabic, continuing at the beginning
of the twelfth century that transfer of Graeco-Arabic science which we
have associated with the name of Gerbert in the tenth century and which
Constantinus Africanus carried on in the eleventh century. Adelard
himself hints that some of his new ideas are not derived from his
Arabian masters but are his own, and Haskins has well characterized him
as a pioneer in the study of natural science.

[Sidenote: Some dates in his career.]

Adelard has been described as “a dim and shadowy figure in the history
of European learning,”[28] and the dates of his birth and death
are unknown. We possess, however, a number of his works and some
may be either approximately or exactly dated. In the preface to his
translation of the astronomical tables of Al-Khowarizmi he seems to
give the year as 1126.[29] The Pipe Roll for 1130 informs us that
Adelard received four shillings and six pence at that time from the
sheriff of Wiltshire. This suggests that he was in the employ of the
king’s court,[30] and his brief treatise on the astrolabe seems to
be dedicated to Prince Henry Plantagenet,[31] later Henry II, and to
have been written between 1142 and 1146. It was probably one of his
last works and in it he mentions specifically three earlier works.[32]
Two other writings, which are the best known and apparently the most
original of his works, namely the _Questiones naturales_ and _De eodem
et diverso_, may be dated approximately from the fact that they are
dedicated respectively to Richard, Bishop of Bayeux from 1107 to 1133,
and to William, Bishop of Syracuse, who died in 1115 or 1116. Both
works are addressed to Adelard’s nephew, who is presumably the same
person in both cases, one in the form of a letter, the other of a
conversation, and both justify Adelard’s studies in foreign lands. In
an appendix to this chapter the question when these two treatises were
written and their relations to each other will be discussed more fully.

[Sidenote: Mathematical treatises.]

The subjects of a majority of Adelard’s known works and translations
are mathematical or astronomical. The most elementary is a treatise
on the abacus, _Regule abaci_,[33] in which his chief authorities
are Boethius and Gerbert and he seems as yet unacquainted with
Arabic mathematics.[34] But most of the mathematical treatises
extant under Adelard’s name are from the Arabic, such as his
translation of Euclid’s _Elements_;[35] of the astronomical tables
of Al-Khowarizmi--who flourished under the patronage of the caliph
Al-Mamum (813-833)--“apparently as revised by Maslama at Cordova,”
under the title _Liber Ezich_; and, if by a “Master A” Adelard is
meant, of a treatise of the first half of the twelfth century on the
four arts of the quadrivium and especially on astronomy, which is
apparently also a work of Al-Khowarizmi.[36] Some of the introductory
books on the quadrivium have been printed,[37] but “the astronomical
treatise has not yet been specially studied.”[38] One therefore cannot
say how far it may indulge in astrology, but we are told that Adelard
translated from the Arabic another “astrological treatise, evidently
of Abu Ma’ashar Dja’afar,”[39] or Albumasar. We have already mentioned
in another chapter the ascription to Adelard of one Latin translation
of the superstitious work of Thebit ben Corat on astrological images,
and in the present chapter the treatise on the astrolabe for Henry

[Sidenote: Adelard and alchemy.]

Adelard was interested in alchemy as well as astrology and magic,
if the attribution to him in a thirteenth century manuscript[40] of
the twelfth century version of the _Mappe clavicula_ is correct. We
have seen that the original version of that work was much older than
Adelard’s time, but he perhaps made additions to it, or translated
a fuller Arabic version. The occurrence of some Arabic and English
words in certain chapters of the later copies are perhaps signs of his
contributions. Berthelot, however, thought that few of the new items in
the twelfth century version originated with Adelard and that many of
the additions were taken by him, or by whoever was responsible for the
later version, from Greek rather than Arabic sources.[41]

[Sidenote: Importance of the _Natural Questions_.]

Our attention will be devoted chiefly to the two treatises by Adelard
which we have already mentioned as the most original of his works.
Of these the _Natural Questions_ are evidently much more important
than the _De eodem et diverso_, which is largely taken up with a
justification, in the style of allegorical personification made so
popular by Martianus Capella and Boethius, and with much use of Plato’s
_Timaeus_, of the seven liberal arts against the five worldly interests
of wealth, power, ambition, dignities, and pleasure. The _Natural
Questions_, although put into a dramatic dialogue form somewhat
reminiscent of Plato, deal without much persiflage with a number of
concrete problems of natural science to which definite answers are

[Sidenote: Occasion of writing.]

Adelard opens the _Natural Questions_ with brief allusion to the
pleasant reunion with the friends who greeted him upon his return to
England in the reign of Henry I after long absence from his native
land for the sake of study. After the usual inquiries had been made
concerning one another’s health and that of their friends, Adelard
asked about “the morals of our nation,” only to learn that “princes
were violent, prelates wine-bibbers, judges mercenary, patrons
inconstant, the common men flatterers, promise-makers false, friends
envious, and everyone in general ambitious.” Adelard declared that he
had no intention of conforming to this wretched state of affairs, and
when asked what he did intend to do, since he would not practice and
could not prevent such “moral depravity,” replied that he intended
to ignore it, “for oblivion is the only remedy for insurmountable
ills.” Accordingly that subject was dropped, and presently his nephew
suggested and the others joined in urging that he disclose to them
“something new from my Arabian studies.”[42] From the sordid practical
world back to the pure light and ideals of science and philosophy! Such
has been the frequent refrain of our authors from Vitruvius and Galen,
from Firmicus and Boethius on. It is further enlarged upon by Adelard
in the _De eodem et diverso_; it has not quite lost its force even
today; and parallels to Adelard’s twelfth century lament on England’s
going to the dogs may be found in after-the-war letters to _The London
Times_ of 1919.

[Sidenote: Arabic versus Gallic learning.]

The result of the request preferred by Adelard’s friends is the present
treatise in the form of a dialogue with his nephew, who proposes by a
succession of questions to force his uncle to justify his preference
for “the opinions of the Saracens” over those of the Christian “schools
of Gaul” where the nephew has pursued his studies. The nephew is
described as “interested rather than expert in natural science”[43] in
the _Natural Questions_, while a passage in the _De eodem et diverso_
implies that his training in Gaul had been largely of the usual
rhetorical and dialectical character, since Adelard says to him, “Do
you keep watch whether I speak aright, observing that modest silence
which is your custom amidst the wordy war of sophisms and the affected
locutions of rhetoric.”[44] In the _Natural Questions_ the nephew, as
befits his now maturer years, has more to say, raising some objections
and stating some theories as well as propounding his questions, but
Adelard’s answers constitute the bulk of the book. Beginning with
earth and plants, the questions range in an ascending scale through
the lower animals to human physiology and psychology and then to the
grander cosmic phenomena of sea, air, and sky.

[Sidenote: “Modern discoveries.”]

In agreeing to follow this method of question and answer Adelard
explains at the start that on account of the prejudice of the present
generation against any _modern_[45] discoveries he will attribute
even his own ideas to someone else, and that, if what he says proves
displeasing to less advanced students because unfamiliar, the blame
for this should be attached to the Arabs and not to himself. “For I am
aware what misfortunes pursue the professors of truth among the common
crowd. Therefore it is the cause of the Arabs that I plead, not my
own.”[46] This is a very interesting passage in more ways than one.
Adelard appears as an exponent of the new scientific school, stimulated
by contact with Arabian culture. He is confident that he has valuable
new truth, but is less confident as to the reception which it will
receive. The hostility, however, in the Latin learned world is not, as
one might expect, to Mohammedan learning. The process of taking over
Arabic learning has apparently already begun--as indeed we have seen
from our previous chapters--and Adelard’s Christian friends are ready
enough to hear what he has learned in Mohammedan lands and schools,
although of course they may not accept it after they have heard it.
But he fears that he “would not get a hearing at all,” if he should
put forward new views as his own. Indeed, he himself shows a similar
prejudice against other novelties than his own in a passage in the
_De eodem_, where he speaks impatiently and contemptuously of “those
who harass our ears with daily novelties” and of “the new Platos and
Aristotles to whom each day gives birth, who with unblushing front
proclaim alike things which they know and of which they know nothing,
and whose supreme trust is in extreme verbosity.”[47] Adelard of course
regarded his own new ideas as of more solid worth than these, but the
fact remains that he was not after all the only one who was interested
in promulgating novelties. Yet his justification for writing the _De
eodem_ is the silence of “the science of the moderns” compared with the
fluency of the ancients, of whose famous writings he has read “not all,
but the greater part.”[48] It is not necessary, of course, to regard
this passage and the preceding as inconsistent, but it is well to read
the one in the light of the other.

[Sidenote: Medieval work wrongly credited to Greek and Arab.]

But let us return to the passage from the _Natural Questions_ and
Adelard’s insinuation--slightly satirical no doubt, but also in part
serious--that he has fathered new scientific notions of his own upon
the Arabs. There is reason to think that he was not the only one to do
this. Not only were superstitious and comparatively worthless treatises
which were composed in the medieval period attributed to Aristotle and
other famous authors, but this was also the case with works of real
value. Also the number is suspiciously large of works of which the
lost originals were supposedly by Greek or Arabian authors but which
are extant only in later Latin “translations.”

[Sidenote: Illustrated from the history of alchemy.]

This point may be specifically illustrated for the moment from the
researches of Berthelot among alchemistic manuscripts, which have
demonstrated that Latin alchemy of the thirteenth century was less
superstitious and more scientific than in previous periods, whether
among the ancient Greeks or more recent Arabs. He found but one
treatise in Arabic which contained precise and minute details about
chemical substances and operations. As a rule the Arabian alchemists
wrote “theoretical works full of allegories and declamation.” For a
long time several works, important in the history of chemistry as
well as of alchemy, were regarded as Latin translations of the Arab,
Geber. But Berthelot discovered the Arabic manuscripts of the real
Geber, which turned out to be of little value and largely copied from
Greek authors. On the other hand, the Latin works which had gone
under Geber’s name were produced in the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries by men who seem, like Adelard of Bath, to have preferred
to ascribe their own ideas to the Arabs. Let us examine for a moment
with Berthelot[49] the chief of these Latin treatises. It is a “a
systematic work, very well arranged. Its modest method of exposition”
differs greatly from “the vague and excessive promises of the real
Geber.” Much of the book possesses “a truly scientific character” and
“shows the state of chemical knowledge with a precision of thought and
expression unknown to previous authors.” As for Adelard’s new ideas,
we may not regard them as so novel as they seemed to him, nor estimate
them so highly in comparison with ancient Greek science as Berthelot
did medieval compared with Greek alchemy--much of Adelard’s thought may
be derived by him from those ancient writings in which he claims to
have read so widely--but they were probably as new to Adelard’s Latin
contemporaries as they were to himself.

[Sidenote: Science and religion.]

While Adelard’s English friends displayed no bigoted opposition to the
reception of Saracen science, the question of science and religion
is raised in another connection in the very first of the questions
concerning nature which the nephew puts to his uncle. The nephew
inquires the reason for the growth of herbs from earth, asking, “To
what else can you attribute this save to the marvelous effect of
the marvelous divine will?” Adelard retorts that no doubt it is the
Creator’s will, but that the operation is also not without a natural
reason. This attitude of independent scientific investigation is
characteristic of Adelard. Again in the fourth chapter when the nephew
displays a tendency to ascribe all effects to God indifferently as
cause, Adelard objects. He insists that he is detracting in no way from
God, whom he grants to be the source of all things, but he holds that
nature “is not confused and without system” and that “human science
should be given a hearing upon those points which it has covered.” On
the other hand he has no desire in the present treatise to overstep the
bounds of natural science and enter the field of theology. When his
nephew towards the close wishes him to go on and discuss the problem of
God’s existence and nature, he wisely responds, “You are now broaching
a question to me where it is easier to disprove what isn’t so than to
demonstrate what is,”[50] and that they had better go to bed and leave
this big question for another day and another treatise.[51]

[Sidenote: Reason versus authority.]

Besides preferring the learning of Arabian and other distant lands to
the schools of Gaul, and favoring scientific investigation rather than
unquestioning faith, Adelard also sets reason above authority. He not
only complains of his generation’s inborn prejudice against new ideas,
but later on, when his nephew proposes to turn his questions from the
subject of plants to that of animals, enters upon a longer diatribe
against scholastic reliance upon past authorities. “It is difficult for
me to discuss animals with you. For I learned from my Arabian masters
under the leading of reason; you, however, captivated by the appearance
of authority, follow your halter. Since what else should authority be
called than a halter? For just as brutes are led where one wills by a
halter, so the authority of past writers leads not a few of you into
danger, held and bound as you are by bestial credulity. Consequently
some, usurping to themselves the name of authority, have used excessive
license in writing, so that they have not hesitated to teach bestial
men falsehood in place of truth. For why shouldn’t you fill rolls of
parchment and write on both sides, when in this age you generally
have auditors who demand no rational judgment but trust simply in the
mention of an old title?”[52] Adelard adds that those who are now
reckoned authorities gained credence in the first instance by following
reason, asserts that authority alone is not enough to convince, and
concludes with the ultimatum to his nephew: “Wherefore, if you want to
hear anything more from me, give and take reason. For I’m not the sort
of man that can be fed on a picture of a beefsteak.”[53]

[Sidenote: Need of the telescope and microscope already felt.]

The history of natural philosophy and science has demonstrated that the
unaided human reason has not been equal to the solution of the problems
of the natural universe, and that elaborate and extensive observation,
experience, and measurement of the natural phenomena are essential.
But exact scientific measurement was not possible with the unaided
human senses and required the invention of scientific instruments.
As Adelard says in _De eodem et diverso_, “The senses are reliable
neither in respect to the greatest nor the smallest objects. Who has
ever comprehended the space of the sky with the sense of sight?... Who
has ever distinguished minute atoms with the eye?”[54] Notable natural
questions these, showing that the need of the telescope and microscope
was already felt and that the discovery must in due time follow!

[Sidenote: Some quaint speculative science.]

We must not, therefore, unduly blame Adelard for placing, like the
Greek philosophers before him, somewhat excessive trust in human reason
and believing that “nothing is surer than reason, nothing falser
than the senses.”[55] But in consequence much of his discussion is
still in the speculative stage, and uncle as well as nephew shows the
influence of dialectical training. Some quaint and amusing instances
may be given. Asked why men do not have horns like some other animals,
Adelard at first objects to the question as trivial; but when his
nephew urges the utility of horns as weapons of defence, he replies
that man has reason instead of horns, and that, as a social as well as
bellicose animal, man requires weapons which he can lay aside in times
of peace.[56] Asked why the nose, with its impurities, is placed above
the mouth, through which we eat, Adelard answers that nothing in nature
is impure, and that the nose serves the head and so should be above
the mouth which serves the stomach.[57] Such arguing from the fitness
of things and from design was common in the Greek philosophers whom
Adelard had read, and in judging his treatise we must compare it with
such books as the _Saturnalia_ of Macrobius which he cites,[58] the
_Natural Questions_ of Seneca, Plato’s _Timaeus_, and the _Problems_ of
Aristotle,[59] rather than with works of modern science.

[Sidenote: Warfare, science, and religion.]

It is noteworthy, however, even in these two amusing instances that
the argument from design is questioned, while the question about horns
Adelard perhaps inserted as a sly hit against the militarism of the
feudal age. Little recked he of the horrible substitutes for horns
that twentieth century warfare would work out with the aid of modern
science. The medieval church has too often been wildly accused of
persecuting natural scientists and it has been erroneously stated that
Roger Bacon dared not reveal the secret of the mariner’s compass--which
really was well known before his time--for fear of being accused of
magic.[60] There is somewhat more plausibility in the theory that he
concealed the invention of gunpowder from fear of the inquisition,[61]
since there appears to have been a certain medieval prejudice against
inhuman war inventions, which historians of artillery somewhat
impatiently ascribe to “ignorance, religion, and chivalry,” and which
they hold prevented the use of Greek fire in the west.[62] At any rate
in Adelard’s day the Second Lateran Council attempted to prohibit the
use of military engines against men on the ground that they were too

[Sidenote: Specimens of medieval scientific curiosity.]

Returning to the _Natural Questions_, we may note that, like the
_Problems_ of Aristotle, they vary from such crude queries as might
occur to any curious person without scientific training to others that
imply some previous theory or knowledge. A list of some of them will
illustrate the scope of the scientific curiosity of the time. When one
tree is grafted upon another, why is all the fruit of the nature of
the grafted portion? Why do some brutes ruminate; why are some animals
without stomachs; and why do some which drink make no water? Why do
men grow bald in front? Why do some animals see better in the night
than in the day and why can a man standing in the dark see objects
that are in the light, while a man standing in the light cannot see
objects that are in the dark? Why are the fingers of the human hand
of unequal length and the palm hollow? Why don’t babies walk as soon
as they are born, and why are they at first nourished upon milk, and
why doesn’t milk agree equally with old and young? Why do we fear dead
bodies?[64] A number of questions are devoted to each of the topics,
vision, hearing, and heat, while the senses of taste, smell, and touch
are dismissed in a single question and answer.[65]

[Sidenote: Theory of sound.]

The discussion of sound and vision may be noted more fully. The nephew
has already learned from his Boethius something similar to the wave
theory of sound. He states that when the air has been formed by the
mouth of the speaker and impelled by the tongue, it impresses the same
form upon that which is next to it, and that this process is repeated
over and over just as concentric circles are formed when a stone is
thrown into water.[66] Vitruvius had given the same explanation in
discussing the acoustics of a theater.[67] But when the nephew asks
his uncle how the voice can penetrate an iron wall, Adelard replies
that every metal body, no matter how solid, has some pores through
which the air can pass.[68] Thus he appears to regard air as the only
substance which can transmit or conduct sound waves. His notion that
air can pass through solids reminds one a little of the milder theory
of Hero of Alexandria that heat and light consist of material particles
which penetrate the interstices between the atoms composing air and
water.[69] But it hardly seems as if Adelard could have derived _his_
notion from Hero, since the impermeability of metal vessels to air is a
fundamental hypothesis in many of the devices of Hero’s _Pneumatics_.

[Sidenote: Theory of vision.]

Adelard’s theory of vision, that of extramission of “a visible spirit,”
is similar to that of Plato in the _Timaeus_, by which he was not
unlikely influenced. The visible spirit passes from the brain to the
eye through “concave nerves which the Greeks call optic,” and from the
eye to the object seen and back again “with marvelous celerity.”[70]
It would be interesting to know certainly whether Adelard penned this
passage before John of Spain translated into Latin the _De differentia
spiritus et animae_, in which Costa ben Luca speaks of “hollow nerves”
from the brain to the eye through which the _spiritus_ passes for the
purpose of vision.[71] Apparently Adelard was first, since the _Natural
Questions_ were finished at some time between 1107 and 1133, while
John of Spain is said to have made his translation for Raymond who was
archbishop of Toledo from 1130 to 1150. Were the manuscripts not so
insistent in naming John as translator,[72] we might think that Adelard
had translated the _De differentia spiritus et animae_. Very possibly
he had come across it during his study with Arabian masters. But he
shows no acquaintance with the optical researches of Al-Hazen or with
the treatise on _Optics_ ascribed to Ptolemy, which last is extant only
in the twelfth century Latin translation by Eugene of Palermo, admiral
of Sicily.[73] However, the fact that three other theories of vision
than the one which Adelard accepts are set forth by his nephew suggests
that the problem was attracting attention. Pliny’s _Natural History_
gave no theory of vision whatever, although he listed various cases of
extraordinary sight. Boethius, on the other hand, briefly adverted to
the opposing theories of vision by extramission and intramission in the
first chapter of his work on music. As for the marvelous celerity of
the visible spirit, Augustine had enlarged upon the vast distance to
the sun and back traveled by the visual ray in an instant or twinkling
of an eye.[74]

[Sidenote: Deductive reasoning from hot and cold, moist and dry.]

Throughout the _Natural Questions_ Adelard’s explanations and answers
are based in large measure upon the familiar hypothesis of the four
elements and of the four qualities, hot and cold, dry and moist. When
asked, for instance, why all ruminating animals begin to lie down with
their hind legs, he explains that their scanty animal heat is the
cause of their ruminating to aid digestion, and that there is more
frigidity in their posterior members, which are consequently heavier
and so are bent first in reclining. The nephew thinks that here he
has caught his uncle napping, and asks why is it then that in rising
they lift themselves first onto their hind legs. But Adelard is not to
be so easily nonplussed, and explains that after they have lain down
and rested, they feel so refreshed that they lift their heavier limbs
first.[75] Again, asked why persons of quick perception often have
faulty memories, Adelard suggests that a moist brain is more conducive
to intelligence, but a dry one to memory. Thus moist potter’s clay
receives impressions more readily but also easily loses them; what is
drier receives the impression with more difficulty but retains it.[76]
In a third passage, Adelard explains his nephew’s weeping in his joy
at seeing his uncle safely returned by the theory that his excessive
delight overheated his brain and distilled moisture thence.[77]

[Sidenote: Refinement of the four elements hypothesis.]

Adelard, however, like Galen, Constantinus Africanus, Basil, and
other writers before him, finds it advisable to refine the theory of
the four elements. He is at pains in his answer to the nephew’s very
first question to explain that what we commonly call earth is not the
element earth, and that no one ever touched the pure element water, or
saw the elements air and fire. Every particular object contains all
four elements and we deal in daily life only with compounds. In an
herb, for instance, unless there were fire, there would be no growth
upward; unless there were water or air, no spreading out; and without
earth, no consistency. Moreover, when Adelard is asked why some herbs
are spoken of as hot by nature, although all plants have more earth
than fire in their composition, he says that while earth predominates
quantitatively, efficaciously they are more fiery, just as his green
cloak is larger than his green emerald, but much less potent.[78] Thus
comes in the theory of occult virtue to help out the inadequate and
unsatisfactory hypothesis of four elements and four qualities. We shall
find our subsequent authors often resorting to the same explanation.

[Sidenote: Animal intelligence doubted.]

Adelard may believe in the marvelous virtue of emeralds, to which
indeed he alludes rather inadvertently, but we do not find in the
_Natural Questions_ any of the common tales concerning remarkable
animal sagacity or malice. This may be mere accident or it may be due
to his warning in introducing the discussion of animals to give and
take reason only. However, the question is discussed whether the brutes
possess souls,[79] and he states that the common people are sure that
they do not, and that only philosophers assert that animals have souls.
This does not mean that their souls are rational, however: either
animals possess “neither intelligence nor discretion but only opinion
which is founded not in the soul but in the body”; or perhaps they
have “some judgment why they seek and avoid certain things,” and such
discretion of sense as enables a dog to distinguish scents. If they
possess such animal souls, do these perish with the body?

[Sidenote: The earth’s shape and center of gravity.]

Adelard is correctly informed as to the shape of the earth and its
center of gravity. Asked how the terrestrial globe is upheld in the
midst of space, he retorts that in a round space it is evident that
the center and the bottom are the same.[80] This thought is reinforced
by the next question, If there were a hole clear through the earth
and a stone were dropped in, how far would it fall? Adelard correctly
answers, Only to the center of the earth. The same question is asked
of Adelard by a Greek in the _De eodem et diverso_, so that, in case
we regard the _De eodem_ as written before the _Natural Questions_,
it would appear that he had not derived his conclusion in this matter
from either the Greeks or the Arabs. However, we have heard Plutarch
scoff at the statement that bars weighing a thousand talents would stop
falling at the earth’s center, if a hole were opened up through the

[Sidenote: Indestructibility of matter.]

In a recent review of Sir William Ramsay’s _The Life and Letters of
Joseph Black, M.D._, it is stated, “The nature of the experiment he
(Black) made is not now known, but his tremendous comment on it was,
‘Nothing escapes!’ Have we here really the first glimmering of the
great principle of the indestructibility of matter which, with the
associated principle regarding energy, forms the foundation of modern
chemistry and physics?”[82] To this the answer is, “No.” Adelard of
Bath stated the indestructibility of matter eight centuries earlier,
and apparently not as the result of any experiment. But his utterance
was fuller and more explicit than that of Black. “And certainly in my
judgment nothing in this world of sense ever perishes utterly, or is
less today than when it was created. If any part is dissolved from one
union, it does not perish but is joined to some other group.”[83]

[Sidenote: Also stated by Hugh of St. Victor.]

The indestructibility of matter is also stated by Adelard’s
contemporary, Hugh of St. Victor, who remarks in the _Didascalicon_
that of earthly things which have a beginning and an end “it has
been said, ‘Nothing in the universe ever dies because no essence
perishes.’ For the essences of things do not change, but the forms.
And when a form is said to change, it should not be so understood
that any existing thing is believed to perish utterly and lose its
being, but only to undergo alteration, either perchance so that those
things which were joined are separated, or those joined which had
been separated....”[84] Hugh was quite certainly a younger man than
Adelard, but it is not so certain that the _Didascalicon_ was written
after the _Natural Questions_, although it is probable. Or Hugh may
have heard Adelard lecture in Gaul or learned his view concerning the
indestructibility of matter indirectly. Or they both may have drawn it
independently from a common source.[85]

[Sidenote: Roger Bacon’s continuity of universal nature.]

In an article entitled _Roger Bacon et l’Horreur du Vide_[86] Professor
Pierre Duhem advanced the thesis that in place of the previous doctrine
that nature abhors a vacuum Roger Bacon was the first to formulate
a theory of universal continuity. This was an incorrect hypothesis,
it is true, but one which Professor Duhem believed to have served
the useful purpose of supplementing “the Peripatetic theory of heavy
and light” until the discovery of atmospheric pressure. This theory
developed in connection with certain problematical phenomena of
which this “experiment” is the chief and typical case. If there be
suspended in air a vessel of water having a hole in the top and several
narrow apertures in the bottom, no water will fall from it as long as
the superior aperture is closed. Yet water is heavier than air and
according to the principles of Aristotle’s _Physics_ should fall to the
ground. Writers before Roger Bacon, according to Duhem, explain this
anomaly by saying that the fall of the water would produce a vacuum and
that a vacuum cannot exist in nature. But Bacon argues that a vacuum
cannot be the reason why the water does not fall, because a vacuum does
not exist; he then explains further that although by their particular
natures water tends downwards and air upwards, by their nature as
parts of the universe they tend to remain in continuity. Duhem held
that Roger Bacon was the first to substitute this positive law of
universal continuity for the mere negation that a vacuum cannot exist
in nature.[87]

[Sidenote: Previously stated by Adelard.]

Professor Duhem supported his case by citation of Greek, Byzantine,
and Arabic sources and by use of writings of fourteenth century
physicists available only in manuscripts. But unfortunately for his
main contention he overlooked a remarkable passage written by Adelard
of Bath over a century before Roger Bacon. In the fifty-eighth chapter
of the _Natural Questions_ the nephew says, “There is still one point
about the natures of waters which is unclear to me.” He then asks his
uncle to explain a water jar, similar to that just described, which
they had once seen at the house of an enchantress. Adelard replies in
his clear, easy style, so different from the scholastic discussion in
Bacon’s corresponding passages. “If it was magic, the enchantment was
worked by violence of nature rather than of waters. For although four
elements compose the body of this world of sense, they are so united
by natural affection that, as no one of them desires to exist without
another, so no place is or can be void of them. Therefore immediately
one of them leaves its position, another succeeds it without interval,
nor can one leave its place unless some other which is especially
attached to it can succeed it.” Hence it is futile to give the water
a chance to escape unless you give the air a chance to enter. Be it
noted that Adelard not only thus anticipates the theory of universal
continuity, but also in the last clause of the quotation approaches the
doctrine of chemical affinity in the formation and disintegration of
molecules. Finally, he describes what actually occurs in the experiment
more accurately than Roger Bacon or the other physicists cited by
Duhem. “Hence it comes about that, if in a vessel which is absolutely
tight above an aperture is made below, the liquid flows out only
interruptedly and with bubbling. For as much air gets in as liquid
goes out, and this air, since it finds the water porous, by its own
properties of tenuity and lightness makes its way to the top of the
vessel and occupies what seems to be a vacuum.”

[Sidenote: Experiment and magic.]

This detailed and accurate description of exactly what takes place
shows us Adelard’s powers of observation and experiment at their best,
and compares favorably with two cruder examples of experimentation
which he ascribes to others. He states that it was discovered
experimentally which portion of the brain is devoted to the imagination
and which parts to reason and memory through a case in which a man
was injured in the front part of the head.[88] In the other instance
some philosophers, in order to study the veins and muscles of the
human body, bound a corpse in running water until all the flesh
had been removed by the current.[89] But the question remains, how
often did Abelard exercise his powers of accurate observation by
actual experiments? Certainly one thing is noteworthy, that the best
and almost sole experiment that he details is represented by him
as suggested by the magic water jar of an enchantress. Thus we are
once again impelled to the conclusion that experimental method owes
a considerable debt to magic, and that magic owed a great deal to
experimental method.

[Sidenote: Adelard and Hero of Alexandria.]

We are also reminded of the association of similar water-jars with
thaumaturgy in the _Pneumatics_ of Hero of Alexandria.[90] It will
be noted that Adelard is content with a single illustration of the
principle involved, while Hero kept reintroducing instances of it. And
while Hero gave little more than practical directions, Adelard gives
a philosophical interpretation of and scientific deduction from the
experiment. But he also describes what actually occurs more accurately,
admitting that some liquid will gradually flow out even when the
air-hole is kept closed. Here again, as in the case of the theory of
the penetration of the particles of one substance between those of
another mentioned in our paragraph above on the theory of sound, it
is difficult to say whether Adelard was acquainted with Hero’s works.
Probably it is only chance that Hero’s _Pneumatics_ seems to contain
almost exactly the same number of theorems as Adelard’s _Natural
Questions_ has chapters.[91]

[Sidenote: Attitude to the stars: _De eodem et diverso_.]

It remains to consider Adelard’s attitude towards the stars, which is
very similar to that of Plato’s _Timaeus_. We have already seen that
he translated works of Arabic astrology. Such a work as the tables of
Al-Khowarizmi evidently has an astrological purpose, enabling one to
find the horoscope accurately. In the _De eodem et diverso_ he calls
the celestial bodies “those superior and divine animals,” and “the
causes and principle of inferior natures.” One who masters the science
of astronomy can comprehend not only the present state of inferior
things but also the past and the future.[92] The existence of music,
says Adelard in another passage, supplies philosophers with a strong
argument for their belief that “the soul has descended into the body
from the stars above.”[93] In the _De eodem et diverso_ Adelard also
expresses the belief that from present phenomena the mind can look
ahead far into the future, and that the soul can sometimes foresee the
future in dreams.[94]

[Sidenote: Attitude to the stars: _Questiones Naturales_.]

In the _Natural Questions_[95] Adelard again alludes to the stars as
“those superior animals,” and when asked whether they are animated
replies that he deems anyone to be without sense who contends that
the stars are senseless, and that to call those bodies lifeless which
produce vitality in other bodies is ridiculous. He regards “the bodies
of the stars” as composed of the same four elements as this world of
inferior creation, but he believes that in their composition those
elements predominate which conduce most to life and reason, and that
the celestial bodies are more fiery than terrestrial bodies. “But
their fire is not harsh, but gentle and harmless. It therefore follows
that it is obedient to and in harmony with sense and reason.” Their
form, too, being “full and round,” is especially adapted to reason.
Finally, if reason and foresight exist even in our dark and perturbed
lower world, how much more must the stars employ intelligence in
their determined and constant courses? When the nephew proceeds to
inquire what food the stars eat, since they are animals, Adelard shows
no surprise, but answers that as diviner creatures they use a purer
sustenance than we, namely, the humidities of earth and water which,
extenuated and refined by their long upward transit, neither augment
the stars in weight nor dull their reason and prudence. But when the
nephew asks whether the _aplanon_ or outermost and immovable sphere of
heaven should be called God or not, Adelard answers that to assert this
is in one sense philosophical but in another, insane and abominable,
and he then avoids further discussion by terminating the treatise.

[Sidenote: Astrology in an anonymous work, perhaps by Athelardus.]

For some reason, which I failed to discover, the catalogue of
the Cotton manuscripts in the British Museum, in describing “a
philosophical treatise concerning the principles of nature, the power
of celestial influences on minds and morals, and other matters,”[96]
states that “the author seems to be Athelardus.” The treatise is
perhaps of later date than Adelard of Bath, but as it would be equally
difficult to connect it with any other of our authors, we will give
some account of it now. It seems to be incomplete as it stands both
at the beginning and end, but the main interest in the portion
preserved to us is astrological. Authorities are cited such as Hermes
Trismegistus, Theodosius, Ptolemy, Apollonius of Thebes, “Albateni,”
and “Abumaxar.” Discussing the number of elements our author states
that medical men speak of the four parts of the inferior world, fire,
air, water, earth,[97] but that astrologers make the number of the
elements twelve, adding the eight parts of the superior world.[98]
Later our author argues further for astrological influence as against
“the narrow medical man who thinks of no effects of things except those
of inferior nature merely.”[99] Our author holds that forms come from
above to matter here below, and discusses the influence of the sky on
the generation of humans and metals, plants and animals, and connects
seven colors and seven metals with the planets.[100] He furthermore, in
all probability following Albumasar in this, asserts that the course
of history may be foretold by means of astrology and that different
religions go with different planets.[101] The Jews are under Saturn;
the Arabs, under Venus and Mars, which explains the warlike and sensual
character of their religion; the Christian Roman Empire, under the
Sun and Jupiter. “Ancient writers argue” and “present experience
proves”[102] that the Sun stands for honesty, liberality, and victory;
Jupiter, for peace, equity, and humanity. The constant enmity between
the Jews and Christians, and Moslems and Christians, is explained by
the fact that neither Mars nor Saturn is ever in friendly relation
with Jupiter. These three religions also observe the days of the week
corresponding to their planets: the Christians, Sunday; the Moslems,
Friday or Venus’s day; the Jews, Saturday. Our author also explains the
worships of the Egyptians and Greeks by their relation to signs of the

[Sidenote: Authorities on spirits.]

Despite the allusion just mentioned to “the experience of to-day,” our
author perhaps shows too great a tendency to cite authorities to be
that Adelard of Bath who wished to give and take reason and reproved
his nephew for blind trust in authority. In discussing the theme of
spirits and demons[103]--a different problem, it is true, from natural
questions--he thinks that “it is enough in these matters to have faith
in the authority of those who, divinely illuminated, could penetrate
into things divine by the purer vision of the mind.” He proceeds
to cite Apuleius and Trismegistus, Hermes in _The Golden Bough_,
“Apollonius” in _The Secrets of Nature_, which he wrote alone in the
desert, and Aristotle who tells of a spirit of Venus who came to him in
a dream and instructed him as to the sacrifice which he should perform
under a certain constellation.

[Sidenote: Adelard’s future influence.]

But I would close this chapter on Adelard not with superstition from
a treatise of dubious authenticity, but rather with reaffirmation of
the importance in the long history of science of his brief work, the
_Natural Questions_. Its probable effects upon Hugh of St. Victor and
Roger Bacon are instances of its medieval influence to which we shall
add in subsequent chapters. But most impressive is the fact that within
such compact compass it considers so many problems and topics that are
still of interest to modern science. For instance, its two concrete
examples of the stone dropped into a hole extending through the earth’s
center and of the magic water jar have been common property ever since.


[26] For the _De eodem et diverso_ I have used the text printed for
the first time by H. Willner, _Des Adelard von Bath Traktat De eodem
et diverso, sum ersten Male herausgegeben und historischkritisch
untersucht_, Münster, 1903, in _Beiträge_, IV, i.

For the _Questiones naturales_ I have used the _editio princeps_ of
Louvain, 1480 (?), and what is supposed to be the original MS at Eton
College, 161, (Bl. 6. 16). I have also examined BN 2389, 12th century,
fols. 65r-81v, _Questiones naturales_ from cap. 12 on; fols. 81v-90v,
_De eodem et diverso_ (sole extant text); and BN 6415, 14th century,
where Adelard’s _Natural Questions_ are found together with William of
Conches’ _Dragmaticon philosophiae_ and Bernard Silvester’s _Megacosmus
et microcosmus_, of which we treat in succeeding chapters. Professor H.
Gollancz has recently translated the Latin text into English for the
first time in his _Dodi Ve-Nechdi_, the work of Berachya based upon
Adelard’s and preserved in MSS at Oxford and Munich.

For Adelard’s translation of the _Liber Ezich_, or astronomical tables
of Al-Khowarizmi (as revised by Maslama at Cordova), I have used H.
Suter, _Die astronomischen Tafeln des Muhammed ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi_,
Copenhagen, 1914.

For further bibliography of Adelard’s writings see the articles on
_Adelard of Bath_, by Professor C. H. Haskins in EHR 26 (1911) pp.
491-8, and 28 (1913) 515-6. These articles will henceforth be cited as
_Haskins (1911)_ and _Haskins (1913)_.

[27] _De eodem et diverso_, p. 32.

[28] Haskins (1911) p. 491, who has, however, himself done much to
clear up this obscurity. I largely follow his account in the ensuing
biographical and bibliographical details.

[29] But the passage giving this date has been found in but one MS;
Suter (1914), pp. 5, 37.

[30] R. L. Poole, _The Exchequer in the Twelfth Century_, London, 1912,
p. 56.

[31] CU McLean 165, “Heynrice cum sis regis nepos”; Haskins (1913) pp.

[32] Namely, the translation of Euclid, _De eodem et diverso_, and
_Liber Ezich_.

[33] Ed. Boncompagni, _Bullettino di Bibliografia e di Storia della
Scienze matematiche_, XIV, 1-134.

[34] Unless indirectly through Gerbert.

[35] The numerous MSS vary so in text and arrangement that it is not
clear whether Adelard’s work in its original form “was an abridgement,
a close translation, or a commentary,” (Haskins (1911) 494-5).

Professor David Eugene Smith states in his forthcoming edition of Roger
Bacon’s _Communia Mathematicae_, which he has very kindly permitted
me to see in manuscript, that Roger refers several times to Adelard’s
_Editio specialis super Elementa Euclidis_--“a work now entirely

[36] _Liber ysagogarum Alchorismi in artem astronomicam a magistro A.
compositus_: Haskins (1911) p. 493 for MSS.

[37] Ed. Curtze, in _Abhandl. z. Gesch. d. Math._, VIII, 1-27.

[38] Haskins (1911) p. 494.

[39] _Ibid._, 495, _Ysagoga minor Iapharis mathematici in astronomiam
per Adelardum bathoniensem ex arabico sumpta_. It is perhaps worth
noting the similarity of the _Incipit_, “Quicumque philosophie
scienciam altiorem studio constanti inquirens....” (Digby 68, 14th
century, fols. 116-24), to the three _“Quicumque” Incipits_ mentioned
in our chapter on Gerbert (see above, Chapter 30, vol. I, page 707.)

[40] Royal 15-C-IV.

[41] Berthelot (1906) 172-77, “Adelard de Bath et le _Mappe
Clavicula_,” as well as the citations from other writings of Berthelot
by Haskins (1911) 495-6.

[42] “Aliquid arabicorum studiorum novum me proponere exhortatus.”

[43] “Nepos quidam meus in rerum causis magis implicans quam explicans.”

[44] _De eodem et diverso_, p. 2, “Tu utrum recte texam animadverte,
et ea qua soles vel in sophismatum verboso agmine vel in rhetoricae
affectuosa elocutione modesta taciturnitate utere.”

[45] Adelard uses the word _modernus_ a number of times, and usually
of his own age, although in one passage of the _De eodem et diverso_
(p. 7, line 3) he speaks of the Latin writers, Cicero and Boethius,
as _modernos_ in distinction from Greek philosophers of whom he has
previously been speaking. Other uses of the word in _De eodem et
diverso_ to apply to his own age are: p. 3, line 3; p. 19, line 24; p.
22, line 33.

Cassiodorus is said to be the first extant author to use _modernus_.

[46] _Quest. nat., Proemium._ “Habet enim haec generatio ingenitum
vitium ut nihil quod a modernis reperiatur putent esse recipiendum,
unde fit ut si quando inventum proprium publicare voluerim, personae id
alienae imponens inquam, ‘Quidam dixit, non ego’ Itaque--ne omnino non
audiar--omnes meas sententias dans, ‘Quidam invenit, non ego.’ Sed haec

... hoc tamen vitato incommodo ne quis me ignota proferentem ex mea id
sententia facere, verum arabicorum studiorum sensa putet proponere.
Nolo enim si quae dixero minus provectis displiciant, ego etiam eis
displicere. Novi enim quis casus veri professores apud vulgus sequatur.
Quare causam arabicorum non meam agam.”

In the catalogue of books at Christ Church, Canterbury, which was drawn
up while Henry of Eastry was prior (1284-1331), our treatise is listed
as “Athelardus de naturalibus questionibus secundum Arabicos”: James
(1903) p. 126.

[47] P. 7, “Cui tandem eorum credendum est qui cotidianis novitatibus
aures vexant? Et assidue quidem etiam nunc cotidie Platones,
Aristoteles novi nobis nascuntur, qui aeque ea quae nesciant ut et
ea quae sciant sine frontis jectura promittunt; estque in summa
verbositate summa eorum fiducia.”

[48] _De eodem_, p. 1, “Dum priscorum virorum scripta famosa non omnia
sed pleraque perlegerim eorumque facultatem cum modernorum scientia
comparaverim, et illos facundos judico et hos taciturnos appello.”

[49] Berthelot (1893) I, 344-7.

[50] Cap. 77. I cite chapters as numbered in the _editio princeps_.

[51] To which the nephew cheerfully assents.

[52] _Quest. nat._, cap. 6.

[53] _Quest. nat._, cap. 6, “Quare, si quid amplius a me audire
desideras, rationem refer et recipe. Non enim ego ille sum quem pellis
pictura pascere possit.”

[54] _De eodem et diverso_, p. 13.

[55] _De eodem et diverso_, p. 13.

[56] _Quest. nat._, cap. 15.

[57] _Ibid._, cap. 19.

[58] _Ibid._, cap. 35.

[59] The ascription of this work to Aristotle is questioned by D’Arcy
W. Thompson (1913), 14, note, who calls attention to the fact that the
majority of the numerous place-names in it are from southern Italy
or Sicily; “and I live in hopes of seeing this work, or a very large
portion of it, expunged, for this and other weightier reasons, from the
canonical writings of Aristotle.”

[60] See below, chapter 61, page 621.

[61] I refute this theory, however, in Appendix II to the chapter on

[62] Reinaud et Favé, _Le feu grégeois et les origines de la poudre
à canon_, (1845) p. 210. In the quotation from Christine de Pisan at
pp. 219-20, however, it seems to me that she has reference only to
the poisons last-named and not to the Greek fires previously named in
declaring them inhuman and against all the laws of war.

[63] _Ibid._, p. 128.

[64] The questions thus far listed occur in the order of mention in the
following chapters: 6, 7, 10, 11, 20, 12, 30, 36, 37, 38, 39,
40, 46.

[65] _Quest. nat._, cap. 31.

[66] _Quest. nat._, cap. 21.

[67] _De architectura_, V, iii, 6 (Morgan’s translation). “Voice is
a flowing breath of air, perceptible to the hearing by contact. It
moves in an endless number of circular rounds, like the innumerably
increasing circular waves which appear when a stone is thrown into
smooth water, and which keep on spreading indefinitely from the center
unless interrupted by narrow limits, or by some obstruction which
prevents such waves from reaching their end in due formation. When they
are interrupted by obstructions, the first waves, flowing back, break
up the formation of those which follow.”

[68] _Quest. nat._, cap. 22.

[69] See above, chapter 5, vol. I, page 191.

[70] _Quest. nat._, cap. 23.

[71] See above, chapter 28, I, 659.

[72] See above, chapter 28, I, 657.

[73] See above, chapter 3, page 107.

[74] _De Genesi ad litteram_, IV, 34; Migne, PL 34, 319-20.

[75] _Quest. nat._, caps. 8-9.

[76] _Ibid._, cap. 17.

[77] _Ibid._, cap. 32. On “weeping as a salutation,” see J. G. Frazer
(1918) II, 82-93.

[78] _Quest. nat._, cap. 2.

[79] _Ibid._, caps. 13-14.

[80] _Ibid._, cap. 48.

[81] Chapter 6, I, 219.

[82] London Weekly Times, Literary Supplement, Nov. 15, 1918, p. 549.

[83] _Quest. nat._, cap. 4, “Et meo certo iudicio in hoc sensibili
mundo nihil omnino moritur nec minor est hodie quam cum creatus est.
Si qua pars ab una coniunctione solvitur, non perit sed ad aliam
societatem transit.”

[84] _Didascalicon_ I, 7 (Migne, PL 176).

[85] Plotinus had said, “Nothing that really is can ever perish”
(οὐδὲν ἀπολεῖται τῶν ὄντων), as Dean Inge notes, _The Philosophy of
Plotinus_, 1918, I, 189.

There is also resemblance between the _Didascalicon_ (II, 13) and _De
eodem et diverso_ (p. 27, line 7) in their division of music into
mundane, human, and instrumental. For this Boethius is very likely the
common source.

[86] In _Roger Bacon Commemoration Essays_, ed. by A. G. Little,
Oxford, 1914, pp. 241-84.

[87] _Roger Bacon Essays_, p. 266.

[88] _Quest. nat._, cap. 16. For a somewhat similar passage in
Augustine see _De Genesi ad litteram_, VII, 18 (Migne, PL 34, 364).

[89] _Ibid._, cap. 18.

[90] See above, chapter 5, I, 191.

[91] That is, 78 and 77.

[92] _De eodem et diverso_, p. 32.

[93] _Ibid._, p. 10.

[94] _Ibid._, p. 13.

[95] _Quest. nat._, caps. 74-77.

[96] Cotton Titus D, iv, fols. 75-138v, opening “fiat ordinata parato
quo facile amplectamur ...”, and closing “pars tercia tocius orbis
terreni, unde reliqua duo spacia reliqua.”

[97] Cotton Titus D, iv, fol. 77r.

[98] _Ibid._, fol. 78r.

[99] _Ibid._, fol. 126v.

[100] _Ibid._, fols. 127-32.

[101] _Ibid._, fols. 113-4.

[102] _Ibid._ fol. 113v, “Et antiqui scripture arguunt et hodierni
temporis experimentum probat”....

[103] _Ibid._, fols. 120v-124v.



[Sidenote: Difficulty of the problem.]

It is a difficult matter to fix the date either of the _De eodem
et diverso_ or of the _Questiones naturales_, and to account
satisfactorily for the various allusions to contemporary events and
to Adelard’s own movements which occur in either. It is not even
entirely certain which treatise was written first, as neither contains
an unmistakable allusion to the other. On general grounds the _De
eodem et diverso_ would certainly seem the earlier work, but there are
some reasons for thinking the contrary. It seems clear that not many
years elapsed between the composition of the two works, but how many
is uncertain. It is evident that the _De eodem et diverso_ must have
been written by 1116 at the latest in order to dedicate it to William,
bishop of Syracuse. But the _Questiones naturales_ apparently might
have been dedicated to Richard, bishop of Bayeux, at almost any time
during his pontificate from 1107 to 1133, although probably not long
after 1116.

[Sidenote: Before what queen did Adelard play the _cithara_?]

Professor Haskins would narrow down the time during which the _De
eodem et diverso_ could have been written to the years from about
1104 to 1109, with the single year 1116 as a further possibility. He
says, “Adelard speaks of having played the _cithara_ before the queen
in the course of his musical studies in France the preceding year,
and as there was no queen of France between the death of Philip I and
the marriage of Louis VI in 1115, the treatise, unless the bishop of
Syracuse was still alive in 1116, would not be later than 1109.”[104]
But may not the queen referred to have been Matilda, the wife of Henry
I?[105] She was a patroness both of artists and of men of letters, and
the Pipe Roll for 1130 and the treatise on the astrolabe have shown
us that later, at least, it was the English royal family with which
Adelard, himself an Englishman, was connected. It is of “Gaul,” not
of “France” in the sense of territory subject to the French monarch,
that Adelard writes,[106] and Normandy was of course under Henry’s rule
after the battle of Tinchebrai in 1106.

[Sidenote: Circumstances under which the _De eodem et diverso_ was

The _De eodem et diverso_ takes the form of a letter[107] from Adelard
to his nephew, justifying his “laborious itinerary” in pursuit of
learning against the reproach of “levity and inconstancy” made by the
nephew, and stating “the cause of my travel among the learned men of
various regions,” at which the nephew has time and again expressed his
astonishment, and the reasons for which his uncle has kept concealed
from him for two years.[108] This letter seems to have been written by
Adelard in Sicily, since it is prefaced with a dedication to William,
bishop of Syracuse, and since towards its close Adelard speaks of
“coming from Salerno into Graecia maior”[109]--a phrase by which he
presumably refers to the ancient Magna Graecia, or southern Italy, and
perhaps also Sicily. In the preceding year, however, Adelard and his
nephew had been together in Tours.[110] It thus appears that the _De
eodem_ was written not very long after Adelard set out on his quest for
foreign learning, while he was still in the Greek or semi-Greek learned
society of southern Italy and Sicily, and presumably before he had
come into contact with the science of the Saracens, which he does not
mention in the _De eodem et diverso_, although traces of it undoubtedly
lingered in Sicily. He writes as if the idea had only comparatively
recently come to him “that he could much broaden his education, if he
crossed the Alps and visited other teachers than those of Gaul.”

[Sidenote: Different situation depicted in the _Natural Questions_.]

In the _Natural Questions_, on the other hand, he returns to England
after seven years, instead of a single year, of separation from his
nephew, after a visit to the principality of Antioch,[111] and after a
considerable period of study among the Saracens or Arabs. It is rather
natural, however, to conclude that the same absence abroad is referred
to in both treatises, and that Adelard wrote _De eodem et diverso_
to his nephew after he had been absent a year, while the _Natural
Questions_ was composed after his return at the end of seven years.
Thus six years would separate the two treatises. But the _Natural
Questions_ depicts a different last parting of uncle and nephew from
that of _De eodem et diverso_. It does not allude to their having been
together in Tours seven years ago, but reminds the nephew how, when
his uncle took leave of him and his other pupils at Laon seven years
since, it was agreed between them that while Adelard investigated
Arabian learning, his nephew should continue his studies in Gaul.[112]
In the _De eodem et diverso_, on the contrary, neither Laon nor the
Arabs nor any such agreement between uncle and nephew is mentioned.
Rather, the uncle seems to have at first kept secret the motives for
his crossing the Alps. It therefore may be that Adelard had returned
from Sicily to Gaul and had taught at Laon for a short time before
setting out on a longer period of travel in quest of Arabian science.
This would agree well enough with his allusion to his nephew in the
_De eodem et diverso_ as “still a boy,”[113] and the statement in the
_Natural Questions_ that his nephew was “little more than a boy”[114]
when he parted from him seven years before. In this case the _Natural
Questions_ would have been written more than seven years after the _De
eodem et diverso_. This is, I think, the most tenable and plausible

[Sidenote: Some apparent indications that the _De eodem et diverso_ was
written after the _Natural Questions_.]

There are, it is true, one or two circumstances which might be taken
to indicate that the _De eodem et diverso_ was written after the
_Questiones naturales_. In the sole manuscript of the _De eodem_ thus
far known[115] it follows that treatise, and its title _Of the same
and different_ might be taken as a continuation with variations of the
general line of thought of the other treatise. But it is perhaps just
because some copyist has so interpreted its title that it is put after
the _Natural Questions_ in this manuscript. At any rate in the text
itself Adelard gives another explanation of its title, stating that it
has reference to the allegorical figures, Philosophia and Philocosmia,
who address him in his vision, and who, he says, are designated as
_eadem_ and _diversa_ “by the prince of philosophers,”--an allusion
perhaps to some of Aristotle’s pronouns.[116] Another curious
circumstance is that the problem, How far would a stone of great weight
fall, if dropped in a hole extending through the earth at the center?
occurs in both the _De eodem_ and _Natural Questions_.[117] In the
latter the nephew puts the query to his uncle: in the former a Grecian
philosopher whom Adelard has been questioning concerning the properties
of the magnet in attracting iron, in his turn asks Adelard this
question. Now in the _Natural Questions_ Adelard’s answer is given,
as if the nephew had never heard it before, but in the _De eodem et
diverso_ it is simply stated that the Greek “listened to my explanation
of this,” as if the nephew had already heard the explanation from his

[Sidenote: How long had Henry I been reigning?]

In opening the _Natural Questions_ Adelard states that Henry I was
reigning when he returned to England recently. This statement, in
Professor Haskins’ opinion, “would seem to imply that he originally
left England for his studies in France before Henry’s accession.” I am
not quite sure that this inference follows, but if it does, may one not
go a step further and argue that Henry I had come to the throne since
Adelard parted from his nephew at Laon to investigate the learning of
the Arabs? Had Henry become king of England while Adelard was still
studying or teaching in northern Gaul, he would almost certainly have
heard of it, and it would have been no news to him on his return from
his studies among the Arabs. If we accept this view, Adelard’s return
to England would be not later than 1107. But it could scarcely be
earlier, if he wrote and dedicated the _Natural Questions_ promptly
after his arrival, of which he speaks as a recent event in that work,
since the dedicatee did not become Bishop of Bayeux until 1107. And
if the _De eodem et diverso_ was written more than seven years before
the _Natural Questions_, we should have to date it back into the
eleventh century, which would perhaps be too early for its dedication
to William, bishop of Syracuse. And to put these two works so early
is to leave a gap between them and the other known dates of Adelard’s
career, 1126, 1130, and 1142-1146, and make the period of his literary
productivity quite a long one. He would have been quite a graybeard
when he wrote on the astrolabe for the juvenile Henry Plantagenet. On
the whole, therefore, I am inclined to think that Henry I had been
reigning for some time when Adelard wrote the _Natural Questions_.


[104] Haskins (1911) pp. 492-3.

[105] It is true that after 1109, “The queen herself, who had for a
time accompanied the movements of her husband, now resided mostly
at Westminster” (G. B. Adams in Hunt and Poole, _Political History
of England_, II, 151), so that Adelard would not have had many
opportunities to play before her in the English possessions across the
channel after that date.

[106] _De eodem et diverso_, pp. 25-6, Philosophy addresses Adelard,
“... cum praeterito anno in eadem musica Gallicis studiis totus sudares
adessetque in serotino tempore magister artis una cum discipulis cum
eorum reginaeque rogatu citharam tangeres.”

[107] P. 3, line 16, “Quoniam autem in epistola hac ...”; line 25,
“Hanc autem epistolam ‘De eodem et diverso’ intitulavi”; p. 34, line 7,
“Vale; et utrum recte disputaverim, tecum dijudica.”

[108] P. 3, line 9, “Nam et ego, cum idem metuens iniustae cuidam
nepotis mei accusationi rescribere vererer, in hanc demum sententiam
animum compuli, ut reprehensionis metum patienter ferrem, accusationi
iniustae pro posse meo responderem.”

P. 4, line 6, “Saepenumero admirari soles, nepos, laboriosi itineris
mei causam et aliquando acrius sub nomine levitatis et inconstantiae
propositum accusare ...”; line 17, “Et ego, si tibi idem videtur,
causam erroris mei--ita enim vocare soles--paucis edisseram et
multiplicem labyrinthum ad unum honesti exitum vocabo ...”; line 22,
“Ego rem, quam per biennium celavi, ut tibi morem geram aperiam....”

P. 34, line 3, “Hactenus, carissime nepos, tibi causam itineris mei
per diversarum regionum doctores flexi satagens explicavi, ut et me
injustae accusationis tuae onere alleviarem et tibi eorundem studiorum
affectum applicarem....”

[109] P. 33, line 13, “... a Salerno veniens in Graecia maiore ...”;
also p. 32, line 27, “Quod enim Gallica studia nesciunt, transalpina
reserabunt; quod apud Latinos non addisces, Graecia facunda docebit.”

[110] P. 4, line 25, “Erat praeterito in anno vir quidam apud Turonium
... et te eius probitas non lateat, qui una ibi mecum adesses.”

[111] _Quest. nat._, cap. 51, “Cum semel in partibus Antiochenis pontem
civitatis Manistre transires, ipsam pontem simul etiam totam ipsam
regionem terre motu contremuisse.” It is true that this remark is
put into the nephew’s mouth, but it is probably meant to refer to an
incident of Adelard’s recent trip abroad and not to some previous one.

[112] _Quest. nat._, _proemium_, “Meministi, nepos, septennio iam
transacto, cum te in gallicis studiis pene puerum iuxta laudisdunum
una cum ceteris auditoribus meis dimiserim, id inter nos convenisse ut
arabum studia pro posse meo scrutarer, te vero gallicarum sententiarum
in constantiam non minus acquireres?

(Nepos) Memini eo quoque magis quod tu discedens philosophie attentum
futurum me fidei promissione astringeres.”

[113] _De eodem_, p. 4, line 10, “cum in pueritia adhuc detinearis.”
In this treatise, too, Adelard himself is regularly spoken of as
_iuvenis_, which is, however, an exceedingly vague word.

[114] “pene puerum.”

[115] Latin MS 2389, a twelfth century parchment, of the Bibliothèque
Nationale, Paris. The _Questiones naturales_ end at fol. 82v, whence
the _De eodem et diverso_ continues to fol. 91v. The manuscript is
described by Willner at p. 37 of his edition of the _De eodem et

[116] P. 3, line 25ff. “Hanc autem epistolam ‘De eodem et diverso’
intitulavi, quoniam videlicet maximam orationis partem duabus personis,
philosophiae scilicet atque philocosmiae attribui, una quarum eadem,
alter vero diversa a principe philosophorum appellatur.” Adelard
fails to explain why the title is not _De eadem et diversa_, as his
explanation might seem to require.

[117] _Quest. nat._, cap. 49; _De eodem et diverso_, p. 33.

[118] In both treatises Adelard regards the stars as divine animals, as
we have seen, and refers to the same partition of the head among the
mental faculties in both (_Quest. nat._, cap. 18; _De eodem_, p. 32)
but there is nothing to indicate which passage is prior.



 His relation to his time--Early
 life--Writings--_Philosophia_: general
 character--Contemporary education--Good and bad
 demons--Astronomy and astrology--Extent of the influence of
 the stars--Science and religion--Letter of William of St.
 Thierry to St. Bernard--Extent of William’s retraction in
 the _Dragmaticon_--Reassertion of previous views--No denial
 of science--William’s future influence--Appendix I. Editions
 and Manuscripts of the Original and of the Revised Version
 of the Work of William of Conches on Natural Philosophy.

 “... _rejoicing not in the many but in the probity of the
 few, we toil for truth alone._”

                             --_Philosophia (1531) p. 28._

[Sidenote: His relation to his time.]

Practically contemporary with Adelard of Bath and associated like him
with members of the English royal line was William of Conches,[119]
of whom we shall treat in the present chapter. Like Adelard also
he withdrew from the schools of Gaul after teaching there for a
time--longer apparently than Adelard; like Adelard he followed the
guidance of reason and took an interest in natural science; like
him he employed the dramatic dialogue form in his works. John of
Salisbury, who studied grammar under William of Conches and Richard
Bishop (_l’Évêque_) from about 1138 to 1141,[120] represents those
masters as successors to the thorough-going educational methods and
humanistic ideals of Bernard of Chartres; but adds that later, when
men “preferred to seem rather than be philosophers, and professors
of the arts promised to transmit all philosophy to their hearers in
less than three or two years’ time, overcome by the onslaught of the
unskilled multitude, they ceased teaching.”[121] William then seems
to have entered the service of Geoffrey Plantagenet, to whom as duke
of Normandy as well as count of Anjou we find William addressing his
_Dragmaticon_ or _Dramaticus_, which takes the form of a dialogue
between them. It thus was written at some time between 1144 and 1150,
the period when Geoffrey was duke of Normandy.[122] His son, the
future Henry II of England, was in Normandy from 1146 to 1149, when
William appears to have been his tutor.[123] In the _Dragmaticon_
William praises Geoffrey for training his children “from a tender age”
in the study of literature,[124] and before the boy was made duke of
Normandy by his father in 1150 at the age of seventeen William prepared
for his perusal a collection of moral extracts from such classical
Latin authors as Cicero, Seneca, Juvenal, Horace, Lucan, and Persius,
entitled _De honesto et utili_.[125] The last we hear of William seems
to be in 1154, under which date Alberic des Trois Fontaines,[126] a
thirteenth century chronicler, states that he had attained a great
reputation. He might well have lived on for some time after that date,
since his former associate, Richard Bishop, was archdeacon of Coutances
at the time John of Salisbury wrote the _Metalogicus_ in 1159, and
survived to become bishop of Avranches in 1171, dying only in 1182. One
infers, however, from John’s account that William was no longer living
in 1159.

[Sidenote: Early life.]

We may next look back upon the earlier events of William’s life. In the
_Dragmaticon_ he speaks of having been previously engaged in teaching
“for twenty years and more than that.” Still earlier he had been a
student, presumably under Bernard of Chartres, in which town it is
possible that much of his own teaching was done. John of Salisbury,
however, simply says of his studies with William, “Straightway I betook
me to the grammarian of Conches,” while in another passage he mentions
“my teachers in grammar, William of Conches and Richard, surnamed
Bishop, now an archdeacon at Coutances.” Although this passage might
seem to suggest that William taught at Conches, no one so far as I know
has ever entertained that supposition, and the chief dispute has been
whether he taught at Chartres or at Paris.[127] But that he was born at
Conches no one doubts, and he himself once speaks somewhat satirically
of his Norman dulness compared to the lightning intelligences of some
of his contemporaries.[128]

[Sidenote: Writings.]

The _Dragmaticon_ was a revision of a work on philosophy or natural
philosophy composed in William’s “younger days.”[129] He also appears
to have commented upon Boethius’ _Consolation of Philosophy_,[130] and
to have written a gloss on the _Timaeus_[131] in which among other
things he dilates upon the perfection of certain numbers. But our
discussion will be almost exclusively concerned with his much more
influential _Philosophia_ and its revised version, _Dragmaticon_. We
shall first examine the original version.[132]

[Sidenote: _Philosophia_: general character.]

The original treatise touches on the fields of philosophy and astronomy
in a simple and elementary way, but with considerable skill, if not
originality, in the selection and presentation of its subject-matter.
William does not seem acquainted with Arabic science except that he
has read Constantinus Africanus and from him derived the same doctrine
that the four elements are never found in a pure state which we met
in Adelard of Bath. William gives us a Platonic interpretation of
nature, in which nevertheless he does not adhere at all closely to the
_Timaeus_, interspersed with not infrequent quotation from or reference
to astronomical works, classical literature, and the Bible and church
fathers. Indeed, he is always careful to allow for divine influence
in nature and for the statements of Scripture, and to show that his
theories do not contradict either. In such passages his language is
always reverent, and he not infrequently alludes respectfully to what
the saints have to say (_sancti dicunt_) on the theme in hand. The body
of the treatise opens with definition of philosophy and statement of
its method of inquiry, after which the author argues that the world was
made by God and discusses the Trinity at some length. He then discusses
the topics of world-soul, demons, and elements; next passes to various
matters astronomical and astrological concerning the sky and stars; and
finally treats of our lower world and of man.

[Sidenote: Contemporary education.]

The work also contains, especially in the prefaces to its different
books but also in other passages, a number of interesting allusions
to contemporary learning and education. William frequently refers to
the existence of other scholars and furthermore makes it evident that
this learned society is not in its earliest stage. Its paradise period
is over; the evil has entered in among the good; the enemy has sown
tares amid the wheat. Education has become too popular, and already
the insincere and the incapable, the charlatan and the unthinking
mob, are cheapening and degrading the ideals of the true philosopher.
William speaks of “many who usurp the name of teacher,”[133] and of
“certain men who have never read the works either of Constantinus
or of any other philosopher, who out of pride disdain to learn from
anyone, who from arrogance invent what they do not know,”[134] and who
actually insist that the four qualities, hot, cold, moist, and dry,
are elements. In another passage William says, “Although we are aware
that many strive for an ornate style, few for accuracy of statement,
yet rejoicing not in the many but in the probity of the few, we toil
for truth alone.”[135] These are not all of William’s complaints.
Back in the world of feudalism, crusades, and Holy Roman Empire which
seems to many so foreign, distant, and incomprehensible, he voices
grievances which are still those of the college or university professor
of to-day. The teacher is so occupied with classes that he has little
time for research and publication;[136] the vulgar crowd has stolen
philosophy’s clothing and left the essential body of truth naked and
vainly crying for covering,--a figure borrowed from _The Consolation
of Philosophy_ of Boethius without express acknowledgment,[137] but
perhaps the allusion was so familiar as not to require one; the truly
learned are in danger of the bite of envy; most teachers are catering
to their pupils and giving “snap courses” in order to gain popularity;
the elective system is a failure, since the students, in the words
of the Apostle, “after their own lusts heap to themselves teachers
having itching ears”; academic freedom has become a thing of the past
now that masters are become flatterers of their students and students
judges of their masters, while “if there is anyone who does maintain
a magisterial air, he is shunned as if insane by the meretricious
scholars and is called cruel and inhuman.”[138] All which agrees
perfectly with John of Salisbury’s statement why William had ceased

[Sidenote: Good and bad demons.]

William does not mention magic in his treatise, but the fact that he
does not condemn all demons indifferently is perhaps worth noting as
a departure from the usual patristic view and as offering opportunity
for an innocent variety of necromancy. William, who attributes his
classification to Plato, distinguishes three sorts of demons. The first
class, existent in the ether betwixt firmament and moon, are rational,
immortal, ethereal animals, invisible and impassive, whose function is
blissful contemplation of the divine sun. The second class, who dwell
in the upper atmosphere near the moon, are rational, immortal, aerial
animals. They communicate the prayers of men to God and the will of
God to men, either in person or through signs or dreams and “by the
closest aspiration of vocal warning.” They are capable of feeling, and,
devoting themselves to good men, rejoice in their prosperity and suffer
with them in their adversity. Both of these first two classes of demons
are good,--_kalodaemones_. But the third class, who inhabit the humid
atmosphere near the earth and are rational, immortal, watery animals,
and capable of feeling, are in every way evil,--_kakodaemones_. They
are lustful, cohabit with women, and envy and plot against mankind, for
men, although fallen from grace like these demons, can recover their
lost estate as the demons cannot.[139]

[Sidenote: Astronomy and astrology.]

William offers a rather novel and unusual explanation of the difference
in meaning between the terms “astronomy” and “astrology,” stating that
authorities on the subject speak of the superior bodies in three ways,
the fabulous, the astrological, and the astronomical. The method by
fable is that employed by Aratus, Memroth (Nimrod the astronomer?), and
Hyginus (“Eginus”), who interpret the Greek myths in an astronomical
sense. Hipparchus and Martianus Capella are representatives of the
astrological method, which treats of phenomena as they appear to exist
in the heavens, whether they are really so or not. Astronomy, on the
contrary, deals with things as they are, whether they seem to be so or
not. Exactly what he has in mind by this distinction William fails to
make any clearer as he proceeds, but from the fact that he lists Julius
Firmicus and Ptolemy as instances of the astronomical method it would
appear that he included part at least of what we should call astrology
under “astronomy.” William cites yet other astronomical authorities,
advising anyone wishing to learn about the Milky Way to read Macrobius,
and for an explanation of the signs of the zodiac to consult Helpericus
(of Auxerre), the ninth century compiler of a _Computus_ which occurs
with fair frequency in the manuscripts.[140]

[Sidenote: Extent of the influence of the stars.]

William represents “Plato, most learned of all philosophers,” as
saying that God the Creator entrusted the task of forming the
human body to the stars and spirits which He had first created,
but reserved to Himself the making of the human soul.[141] This
Christian interpretation or rather perversion of Plato’s doctrine
in the _Timaeus_ is characteristic. William accepts to the full the
control of the stars over nature and the human body, but stops there.
Like Adelard he states that the stars are composed of the same four
elements as earthly objects. The predominance in their composition
of the superior elements, fire and air, accounts for their motion.
Their motion heats the atmosphere which in turn heats the element
water, which is the fundamental constituent in the various species
of animals, which further differ according to the admixture in them
of the other elements. Of the superior elements the birds of the air
have the most, and fish next. Of land animals choleric ones, like the
lion, possess most fire; phlegmatic ones, like pigs, most water; and
melancholic ones, like the cow and ass, most earth. The human body is
composed of an unusual harmony of the four elements, to which Scripture
alludes in saying that “God formed man of the dust of the earth.”[142]
William also lists the natural qualities and humors of each planet
and its consequent influence for good or evil. He believes that the
ancient _astrologi_ discovered that Saturn is a cold star by repeatedly
observing that in those years when the Sun in Cancer burned the earth
less than usual, Saturn was invariably in conjunction with it in the
same sign. How Saturn comes to exert this chilling influence William
is less certain. He has already denied the existence of the congealed
waters above the firmament, so that he cannot accept the theory that
Saturn is cold because of its proximity to them. He can only suggest
that its great distance from us perhaps explains why it heats less than
the other planets.[143] The good and evil influences of the planets
also come out in the astrological interpretation of myth and fable.
Thus Saturn is said to carry a scythe because one who carries a scythe
does more execution in receding than in advancing. Jupiter is said in
the fables to have ousted his father Saturn because the approach of the
planet Jupiter increases the evil influence of Saturn. Jupiter is said
to have begotten divers children in adultery because the conjunctions
of that planet produce varied effects upon earth; and Venus is said to
have had adulterous intercourse with Mars because the propinquity of
the planet Venus to the planet Mars renders the former less benevolent.
Mars is god of battle because the planet of that name produces heat
and drought which in their turn engender animosity.[144] As the tides
follow the phases of the moon, so, William believes, a universal flood
or conflagration may be produced by the simultaneous elevation or
depression of all the planets.[145] But he accepts comets as special
signs of the future caused by the Creator’s will instead of attempting
to give a natural explanation of the events which follow them.[146]
This is perhaps because of their signifying human events. Thunder and
lightning are discussed without mention of divination from them.[147]

[Sidenote: Science and religion.]

Thus far we have heard William cite authorities rather than spurn them
as Adelard did. He could, however, be independent enough on occasion.
He went so far as to reject the Scriptural account of waters above the
firmament, if that word were taken in its ordinary astronomical sense,
as naturally impossible; he explained away the passage in _Genesis_
by interpreting the firmament to mean the air, and the waters above
it, the clouds.[148] Like Adelard, too, he several times feels it
essential to justify his views against the possible criticism of an
obscurantist religious party. Discussing the Trinity, he insists that
if anyone finds something in his book which is not found elsewhere,
it should not on that account be stigmatized as heresy but only if it
can be shown to be against the Faith.[149] Thus he confirms Adelard’s
complaint that the present generation is prejudiced against any modern
discoveries. William, by the way, also employs the word “modern.”
Again, in affirming the physical impossibility of reconciling the
elements fire and earth, he notes that someone may object that God
could find a way. To this he replies that “we do not place a limit upon
divine power, but we do say that of existing things none can do it, nor
in the nature of things can there be anything that would suffice.”[150]
In a third passage his indignation is fanned to a white heat by those
who say, “We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.”
“You poor fools,” he retorts, “God can make a cow out of a tree, but
has He ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or
cease to hold that it is so.”[151] Elsewhere he yet further dilates
upon the unreasonableness of the opponents of natural science, who are
loath to have explained even the natural facts given in the Bible but
prefer to accept them blindly, and who, “since they themselves are
unacquainted with the forces of nature, in order that they may have all
men as companions in their ignorance, wish them to investigate nothing
but to believe like rustics. We, on the contrary,” continues William,
“think that a reason should be sought in every case, if one can be
found.”[152] Thus he vigorously echoes Adelard’s exhortation to give
and take reason, and his retort to the nephew’s suggestion that the
growth of plants from earth can be explained only as a divine miracle.

[Sidenote: Letter of William of St. Thierry to St. Bernard.]

William, it turned out, was too original and bold in some of his
assertions concerning the Trinity and kindred topics, which were
not allowed to pass unchallenged. A letter to St. Bernard from
William, abbot of St. Thierry,[153] shows the attitude of William
of Conches’ opponents. The abbot first says,--with the assumption
of superior seriousness and dignity characteristic through all time
of conservatives, bigots, and pompous persons subconsciously aware
of their own stupidity--that anyone who knows William of Conches
personally is aware of his levity and will not take his vanities
too seriously, and that he is to be classed with Abelard in the
presumptuousness of his opinions. The abbot then devotes most of his
letter to an attack upon William’s discussion of the Trinity, taking
umbrage at his discussing questions of faith at all, especially upon a
philosophical basis, and at his distribution of the three faculties,
power, will, and wisdom, among the Three Persons. The abbot more
briefly objects to William’s physical account of the creation of man,
saying: “First he says that man’s body was not made by God but by
nature, and the soul was given him by God afterwards, and forsooth that
the body was made by spirits whom he calls demons and by the stars.”
This doctrine the abbot regards as on the one hand dangerously close
to the opinion “of certain stupid philosophers who say that there is
nothing but matter and the material, and that there is no other God in
the world than the concourse of the elements and the system of nature”;
and on the other hand as manifestly Manichean, affirming that the human
soul is created by a good God but the body by the prince of darkness.
Finally the abbot complains that William “stupidly and haughtily
ridicules history of divine authority,” and “interprets in a physical
sense” the account of the creation of woman from one of Adam’s ribs.

[Sidenote: Extent of William’s retraction in the _Dragmaticon_.]

The effect of this theological attack upon William of Conches can
probably be discerned in the _Dragmaticon_. There he states that it is
his purpose to include “many essential points” which were not contained
in the earlier treatise, and to omit those statements which he has
since become convinced are erroneous. He then proceeds to list and
expressly condemn certain statements in the earlier work as contrary
to the Catholic Faith, and he asks those readers who have copies of
that treatise to make these corrections in it.[154] He accordingly
retracts his assertion that in the Trinity the Father represents power
and the Holy Spirit will, since there is no direct scriptural authority
for this view, but he still maintains that the Son is Wisdom on the
authority of the Apostle. He takes back his interpretation of the words
of the Prophet concerning Christ, “Who will tell his generation?” as
indicating merely the difficulty and not the impossibility of solving
that mystery. Finally he reverts to the letter of Scripture in regard
to the creation of Eve.

[Sidenote: Reassertion of previous views.]

But this done, William becomes his old self again in the remainder of
the _Dragmaticon_. In the rôle of the philosopher he argues at length
with the duke whether Plato’s five circles of the sky and division of
spirits into _kalodaemones_ and _kakodaemones_ is in agreement with
the Christian Faith. Later on, when the duke cites Bede against him in
regard to some astronomical point, he replies that in a pure matter of
faith he would feel obliged to accept Bede’s authority, but that on a
point of philosophy he feels perfectly at liberty to disagree with him.
This declaration of scientific independence from patristic authority
became a _locus classicus_ cited with approval by several writers of
the next century. Presently to our surprise we find William boldly
inquiring at what time of year the six days of creation occurred. He
also indulges as before in somewhat bitter reflections upon the learned
world of his day.

[Sidenote: No denial of science.]

William, therefore, has had to withdraw some theological opinions for
which he could not show authority in Scripture, and some other opinions
wherein he disregarded the literal meaning of the Bible. But except
that he has to agree to the miraculous account of the creation of the
first woman, he does not seem to have altered his views concerning
nature and philosophy, nor to have given up in any way his scientific
attitude or his astrological theories. The theologians have forced him
to conform in respect to theology, but his retraction in that field
takes the form of a second edition of his treatise and a reaffirmation
of his astronomical and philosophical views. As Hauréau well says, “He
always believes in science, he still defends in the name of science, in
the accents, and by the method of the scholar, everything in his former
writings that has not been condemned in the name of the Faith.... So it
is no denial of philosophy that has been won by the outcries of William
of St. Thierry and Walter of St. Victor;[155] those attacks have
resulted in merely intimidating the theologian.”[156]

[Sidenote: William’s future influence.]

Such attacks, moreover, had little or no success in lessening William’s
ultimate future influence. How utterly they failed to intimidate
astrologers may be inferred from the much greater lengths to which
William’s contemporary, Bernard Silvester, went without apparently
getting into any trouble, and from the half-hearted arguments against
the art of John of Salisbury a little later in the century. As Doctor
Poole has already pointed out, even the _Philosophia_, which William
of St. Thierry censured and which William of Conches himself modified,
survived in its original and unexpurgated version “to be printed in
three several editions as the production of the venerable Bede, of
saint Anselm’s friend, William of Hirschau, and of Honorius of Autun;
the taint of heresy plainly cannot have been long perceptible to
medieval librarians.”[157] Also the revised edition, or _Dragmaticon_,
“enjoyed a remarkable popularity, and a wide diffusion attested by a
multitude of manuscripts at Vienna, Munich, Paris, Oxford, and other
places.”[158] We shall find William’s book much used and cited by
the learned writers of the following century, and a number of copies
of it are listed in the fifteenth century catalogue of the library
of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury. If then from the contemporary
and passing world of talk William retired disgusted and discomfited
to the shelter of ducal patronage, in the enduring world of thought
and letters he carved for himself a lasting niche by his comparative
intellectual courage, originality, and thoroughness.


[119] On William of Conches see, besides HL XXI, 455 _et seq._ and DNB,
Antoine Charma, _Guillaume de Conches_, Paris, 1857; B. Hauréau, in his
_Singularités historiques et littéraires_, Paris, 1861; H. F. Reuter,
_Geschichte der religiösen Aufklärung im Mittelalter_, II (1877) pp.
6-10; R. L. Poole, _Illustrations of the History of Medieval Thought_,
1884, pp. 124-31, 338-63, (or, 1920, pp. 106-12, 293-310) and “The
Masters of the Schools at Paris and Chartres in John of Salisbury’s
Time,” EHR, 35 (1920) pp. 321-42. For editions and MSS of the original
version and revision of William’s chief philosophical treatise see
Appendix I at the close of this chapter. For his other works see my
subsequent foot-notes.

[120] _Metalogicus_ II, 10.

[121] _Metalogicus_, I, 24.

[122] Haskins, _Norman Institutions_, 1918, p. 130. Haskins, _Ibid._,
p. 205, has found no authority for Geoffrey’s absence on crusade
in 1147, so that it need not be taken into account in dating the

[123] R. L. Poole, in EHR (1920) p. 334.

[124] R. L. Poole (1884), p. 348, (1920) p. 299, concluded from
this, “The dialogue was written therefore some time, probably some
years, before Henry was of an age to be knighted, in 1149; and we
shall certainly not be far wrong if we place it about the year 1145.”
As, however, Henry was knighted when only about sixteen, and as the
remark “quos ... studio literarum tenera aetate imbuisti” may be
retrospective, and as one can scarcely argue with any chronological
exactness from these medieval phrases denoting time of life--Henry, for
example, is addressed as “vir optime atque liberalis” in the preface of
the collection of ethical maxims which William made for him before he
was seventeen,----it seems to me that there is no sufficient reason for
fixing on 1145 as the date of the _Dragmaticon_.

[125] Printed in Migne, PL 171, 1007-56, among the works of Hildebert
of Le Mans. William’s authorship was determined by Hauréau, _Notices et
Extraits_, XXXIII, i, 257-63.

[126] Bouquet, _Recueil_, XIII, 703D.

[127] R. L. Poole, in EHR (1920) p. 334, decides in favor of Chartres.

[128] Cited from the _Dragmaticon_ by Poole (1884) pp. 348-9, (1920)

[129] _In iuventute nostra_, another example of a vague chronological

[130] Charles Jourdain, _Des Commentaires inédits de Guillaume de
Conches et de Nicolas Triveth sur la Consolation de la Philosophie_,
Paris, 1861.

[131] Printed in part as by Honorius of Autun in Cousin, _Ouvrages
inédits d’Abélard_, Appendix, p. 648, _et seq._

[132] My references will be to the _editio princeps_ of Basel, 1531,
which is, however, not particularly accurate.

[133] Edition of 1531, p. 1.

[134] _Ibid._, p. 14.

[135] _Ibid._, pp. 27-8.

[136] _Ibid._, p. 51.

[137] The parallel passages are: _De consolatione philosophiae_, I,
i, 21-3 and I, iii, 19-28. It will be recalled that William wrote a
commentary on Boethius’ work.

[138] Ed. of 1531, p. 65.

[139] _Ibid._, pp. 9-10.

[140] Ed. of 1531, pp. 30-32.

[141] _Ibid._, preface.

[142] Ed. of 1531, pp. 24-25, “... et hoc est quod divina pagina dicit
deum fecisse hominem de limo terrae.”

[143] _Ibid._, p. 34.

[144] _Ibid._, pp. 36-7.

[145] Ed. of 1531, p. 64.

[146] _Ibid._, p. 60.

[147] _Ibid._, pp. 55-6.

[148] _Ibid._, pp. 28-9.

[149] _Ibid._, p. 7.

[150] _Ibid._, p. 19.

[151] _Ibid._, p. 29.

[152] Ed. of 1531, p. 26.

[153] Migne PL 180, 333-40, _Guillelmi abbatis S. Theodorici De
erroribus Guillelmi de Conchis ad sanctum Bernardum_.

[154] This was the impression that I received from the text in CLM
2595 rather than that “His former work, therefore, he suppressed and
begged everyone who possessed the book to join him in condemning and
destroying it”;--R. L. Poole (1884) p. 130, (1920) p. 110.

[155] Walter, in an attack upon the views of Abelard, Gilbert de la
Porrée, and others, unjustly accused William of holding the Epicurean
atomic theory; Poole (1884) pp. 349-50, (1920) pp. 300-1.

[156] B. Hauréau, _Histoire de la philosophie scolastique_, ed. of
1872, I, 445.

[157] R. L. Poole (1884) p. 130, (1920) p. 111.

[158] _Ibid._, p. 131, (1920) p. 111.



Although, as the ensuing bibliography will make apparent, a variety of
titles have been at one time or another applied to the two versions
of the work in question, we shall refer to the original version as
_Philosophia_ and the revision as _Dragmaticon_, which appear to
be both the handiest and the most correct appellations, although
personally I should prefer _Dramaticus_ for the latter. The two
works may perhaps be most readily distinguished by their _Incipits_,
which are, for _Philosophia_, “Quoniam ut ait Tullius in prologo
rhetoricorum, Eloquentia sine sapientia ...”, and for _Dragmaticon_,
“Quaeris, venerande dux Normannorum et comes Andagavensium, cur
magistris nostri temporis minus creditur quam antiquis....” The titles
and the number of books into which the work is divided differ a good
deal in different editions and manuscripts, and the catalogues of
manuscript collections sometimes do not identify the author.

First as to printed editions. _Philosophia_ has been printed three
times as the work of three other authors.

 Philosophicarum et astronomicarum institutionum Guilelmi
   Hirsaugiensis olim abbatis libri tres, Basel, 1531.

 Bede, Opera, 1563, II, 311-43, Περὶ Διδάξων, sive
   Elementorum Philosophiae Libri IV.

 Honorius of Autun, De philosophia mundi, Migne, PL vol. 172.

_Dragmaticon_ seems to be have been printed but once under the title,

 Dialogus de substantiis physicis confectus a Guillelmo
   aneponymo philosopho, Strasburg, 1567.

In the following list of MSS, which is no doubt far from complete,
I have attempted to distinguish between the _Philosophia_ and
_Dragmaticon_ but have often had to rely only upon the notices in
catalogues which frequently do not give the opening words or other
distinguishing marks. The following MS seems unusual in apparently
containing both versions, if by “eiusdem philosophia secunda” is
indicated the _Dragmaticon_.

 CLM 564, 12th century, with figures, fol. 1-, Willelmi
   de Conchis philosophiae libri IV, fol. 32-, eiusdem
   philosophia secunda.

_MSS of the Philosophia_

 Egerton 935, 12th century, small quarto, Phylosophia
   Magistri Willihelmi de Conchis, cum figuris.

 Egerton 1984, 13th century, fols. 2-33.

 Royal 9-A-XIV, 14th century, fols. 245-65, Physicorum libri

 Royal 13-A-XIV, #7, “Quoniam ut ait Tullius....”

 Additional 11676, 13th century, anon. de philosophia
   naturali, in three parts.

 Additional 26770, 13-14th century.

 Digby 104, 13th century, fol. 176-, De elementis
   philosophiae naturalis.

 University College 6, 14th century, p. 389, Philosophiae
   compendium, “Quoniam ut ait Tullius....”

 Bodleian (Bernard) 2596, #10, in four parts; 3623, #30, fol.
   187v-; 4056, #1.

 BN 6656, 14th century, Philosophia, in four parts; 15025;
   13th century; 16207, 13th century, fol. 58-.

 Ste. Geneviève 2200, anno 1277, fols. 1-47, with colored
   figures, “Quoniam ut ait Tullius....”

 Vienna 2376, 12th century, fols. 32v-64v, “Incipit prologus
   in phylosophyam Willehelmi. Quoniam ut ait Tullius....”

 Amplon. Octavo 85, 13th century; Octavo 87, mid 12th century!

 CLM 2594, 13th century, fol. 24, Compendium philosophie de
   naturis corporum celestium et terrenorum. Sunt libri IV.

 CLM 2655, late 13th century, fol. 106, “Summa de naturis
   videlicet totius philosophiae,” in fine nonnulla desunt.

 CLM 14156, 15th century, fols. 1-18, Philosophia minor.

 CLM 14689, 12th century, fols. 85-7. Wilhelmi Hirsaugiensis
   dialogus de astronomia, supersunt tria tantum folia.

 CLM 15407, 14th century, fols. 1-42, philosophia.

 CLM 16103, 12-13th century, fols. 68-99, philosophia

 CLM 18918, 12th century, fols. 1-34, de philosophia.

 CLM 22292, 12-13th century, fol. 40, “Quoniam ut ait

_MSS of the Dragmaticon_

 CLM 2595, 13th century, 43 fols. Dragmaticus.

 CLM 7770, 14th century, 56 fols. De secunda philosophia.

 Florence II, VI, 2, 13th century, fols. 50-65, “Queris
   venerande dux....”

 Ashburnham (Florence) 98, 13th century, fols. 2-41.

 Bibl. Alex: (Rome) 102, 14-17th century, fols. 112-209.

 Wolfenbüttel 4610, 12-14th century, fols. 78-160v, Phisica
   Willendini, “Queris venerande dux....”

 Berlin 921, 13th century.

 Vienna 5292, 15th century, fols. 105-57, “Veros (_sic_)
   Venerande dux....”

 Vendôme 189, 13th century, fols. 123-59.

 St. John’s 178, early 13th century, fols. 266-360, anon.,
   “Queris venerande dux....”

 Corpus Christi 95, end 12-13th century, fol. 1, Universalis
   Philosophiae libri tres per modum dialogi inter
   Normannorum ducem et ipsum doctorem.

 Digby 1, 14th century, fol. 1, Dragmaticon.

 Digby 107, 14th century, Summa magistri Wilhelmi de Conches
   super naturalibus questionibus et responsionibus, “Queris
   venerande dux....” The catalogue incorrectly speaks of it
   as a dialogue with Henry, duke of Normandy, afterwards
   Henry II of England.

 Bodleian (Bernard) 3565.

 Royal 4-A-XIII, #5, Philosophia naturalis, “Queris,” etc.

 Royal 12-F-X, 13th century.

 Arundel 377, 13th century, fol. 104.

 Sloane 2424, 14th century.

 Additional 18210, 13-14th century.

 Egerton 830, 15th century, Dialogus de philosophia inter
   Henricum II (_sic_) Normannorum ducem et ipsum auctorem....

 BN 6415, 14th century; and 4694.

 Montpellier, École de Méd. 145.

 Troyes 1342.



 Importance of medieval translations--Plan of this
 chapter--Transmission of Arabic astrology--Walcher,
 prior of Malvern--Pedro Alfonso--His letter to the
 Peripatetics--Experimental method--Magic and scepticism in
 the _Disciplina clericalis_--John of Seville--Dates in his
 career--Further works by him, chiefly astrological--John’s
 experimental astrology--Gundissalinus _De divisione
 philosophiae_--Place of magic in the classification of the
 sciences--Al-Farabi _De ortu scientiarum_--Gundissalinus
 on astrology--Robert Kilwardby _De ortu sive divisione
 scientiarum_--Plato of Tivoli--Robert of Chester--Hermann
 the Dalmatian--Hugh of Santalla--A contemporary memorial of
 Gerard of Cremona--Account by a pupil of his astrological
 teaching--Character of Gerard’s translations--Science
 and religion in the preface to a translation of the
 _Almagest_ from the Greek--Arabs and moderns--Astronomy
 at Marseilles--Appendix I. Some medieval Johns, mentioned
 in the manuscripts, in the fields of natural and occult
 science, mathematics and medicine.

[Sidenote: Importance of medieval translations.]

Already we have treated of a number of Arabic works of occult
science which are extant in Latin translations, or have mentioned
men, important in the history of medieval science like Constantinus
Africanus or Adelard of Bath, whose works were either largely or partly
translations. In future chapters we shall have occasion to mention
other men and works of the same sort. We have already seen, too, that
translations from the Greek were being made all through the early
middle ages and in the tenth century; and we shall see this continue
in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries especially in connection with
Galen, Aristotle, and Ptolemy. We have also seen reasons for suspecting
that the Latin versions of certain works were older than the so-called
Greek originals, that works were sometimes translated from Arabic into
Greek as well as from Greek into Arabic, and that there probably never
were any Arabic originals for some so-called translations from the
Arabic which are extant only in Latin. All this is not yet to mention
versions from Hebrew and Syriac or in French, Spanish, and Anglo-Saxon.
We have seen also in general how important and influential in the
history of medieval learning was the work of the translator, and yet
how complicated and difficult to follow. Many names of translators are
mentioned in the medieval manuscripts: some, for instance, who will not
be treated of in the present chapter are: from the Greek, Aristippus
of Sicily, Bartholomew of Messina, Burgundio of Pisa, Eugenius admiral
of Sicily, Grumerus of Piacenza, Nicolaus of Reggio, Stephen of
Messina, and William of Moerbeke; from the Arabic, Egidius de Tebaldis
of Parma, Arnold of Barcelona, Blasius Armegandus or Ermengardus of
Montpellier, Marcus of Toledo, the canon Salio of Padua, John Lodoycus
Tetrapharmacus, Philip of Spain, Philip of Tripoli, Roger of Parma,
Ferragius, and so on. But not all such names of translators can be
correctly placed and dated, and many translations remain anonymous in
the manuscripts. Into this vast and difficult field Jourdain’s work on
the medieval translations of Aristotle made but an entrance, and that
one which now needs amendment, and even such extensive bibliographical
investigations as those of Steinschneider have only made rough charts
of portions. Some detailed monographs on single translators[159] and
the like topics have been written, but many more will be required
before we shall have a satisfactory general orientation.

[Sidenote: Plan of this chapter.]

The subject of medieval translations as a whole of course in any case
lies in large part beyond the scope of our investigation and would lead
us into other literary and learned fields not bearing upon experimental
science and magic. In the present chapter we shall further limit
ourselves to some translators of the twelfth century who chiefly
translated works of astrology from the Arabic and who, although they
themselves often came from other lands, were especially active in
Spain. One or two men will be introduced who do not possess all these
qualifications, but who are related to the other men and works included
in the chapter.

[Sidenote: Transmission of Arabic astrology.]

Throughout the twelfth century from its first years to its close may
be traced the transit of learning from the Arabic world, and more
particularly from the Spanish peninsula, to northwestern Europe.
Three points may be made concerning this transmission: it involves
Latin translation from the Arabic; the matter translated is largely
mathematical, or more especially astronomical and astrological in
character; finally, it is often experimental.

[Sidenote: Walcher, prior of Malvern.]

On the very threshold of the twelfth century, in addition to Adelard
of Bath to whom we have given a separate chapter, we meet with another
Englishman, Walcher, prior of Malvern, whom we find associated with
Peter Alphonso or Pedro Alfonso, who apparently was a converted Spanish
Jew. Walcher’s experimental observations would seem to have antedated
his association with Pedro, since a chapter headed, “Of the writer’s
experience,”[160] in lunar tables which he composed between 1107 and
1112, tells of an eclipse which he saw in Italy in 1091 but could
not observe exactly because he had no clock (_horologium_) at hand
to measure the time, and of another in the succeeding year after his
return to England which he was able to observe more scientifically with
the aid of an astrolabe. In 1120 Walcher translated into Latin, at
least according to the testimony of the manuscripts, an astronomical
work by Pedro Alfonso on the Dragon.[161] Pedro perhaps wrote the
original in Hebrew or Spanish or translated it from the Arabic into
one of those languages, but we also know of his writing in Latin

[Sidenote: Pedro Alfonso.]

This Pedro Alfonso seems to have been the same[162] who in 1106
in his forty-fourth year was baptized at Huesca with the name
of his godfather, King Alfonso I of Aragon, and who wrote the
_Disciplina clericalis_ and _Dialogi cum Iudeo_. Indeed we find the
_Disciplina clericalis_ and _De dracone_ ascribed to him in the same
manuscript.[163] In another manuscript chronological and astronomical
tables are found under his name and the accompanying explanatory text
opens, “Said Pedro Alfonso, servant of Jesus Christ and translator
of this book.”[164] This expression is very similar, as Haskins
has pointed out, to a heading in a manuscript of the _Disciplina
clericalis_, “Said Pedro Alfonso, servant of Christ Jesus, physician
of Henry the first (_sic_) king of the Angles, composer of this
book.”[165] The experimental pretensions and astrological leanings of
the astronomical treatise are suggested by Pedro’s statement that the
science of the stars divides into three parts, marvelous in reasoning,
notable in the signification of events, and approved in experience; and
that the third part is the science of the nature of the spheres and
stars, and their significations in earthly affairs which happen from
the virtue of their nature and the diversity of their movements, things
known by experiment.

[Sidenote: His letter to the Peripatetics.]

In a manuscript at the British Museum[166] I have read what seems to
be a third astronomical treatise by Pedro Alfonso, differing both
from the preceding and from the _De dracone_.[167] We meet as before
the expression, “Said Alfonso, servant of Jesus Christ and translator
of this book,”[168] and the emphasis upon experiment and astrology
continues. It will be noted further that in this treatise, which takes
the form of a letter to Peripatetics and those nourished by the milk of
philosophy everywhere through France, Pedro is no longer connected with
Englishmen, although this manuscript, too, is in an English library.
After rehearsing the utility of grammar, dialectic, and arithmetic,
Pedro finally comes to astronomy, an art with which “all of the Latins
generally” are little acquainted, in which he himself has long been
occupied, and a portion of which he presents to them as something rare
and precious. It has come to his ears that some seekers after wisdom
are preparing to traverse distant provinces and penetrate to remote
regions in order to acquire fuller astronomical knowledge, and he
proposes to save them from this inconvenience by bringing astronomy
to them. Apparently, therefore, this letter to the Peripatetics and
other students of philosophy is simply the advertisement of, or preface
to, a translation by Pedro of some astronomical or astrological work,
presumably from the Arabic.[169] It is accordingly mainly devoted to a
justification of the thorough study of astronomy and astrology. Many
persons, in Pedro’s opinion, are simply too lazy to take the trouble
to ground themselves properly therein. Those who think they know all
about the subject because they have read Macrobius and a few other
authors are found wanting in a crisis,--a passage meant doubtless as a
hit at those who base their knowledge of astronomy simply upon Latin
authors. Pedro also alludes to those who have been accustomed to regard
themselves as teachers of astronomy and now hate to turn pupils again.

[Sidenote: Experimental method.]

The contrast which Pedro draws, however, is not so much between Latin
and Arabic writings as it is between dependence upon a few past
authorities and adoption of the experimental method. He argues that
the principles of astronomy were discovered in the first place only
through experimentation, and that today no one can understand the art
fundamentally without actual observation and experience. He believes
that astrology as well as astronomy is proved by experience. “It has
been proved therefore by experimental argument that we can truly affirm
that the sun and moon and other planets exert their influences in
earthly affairs.”[170] Or, as he says in another passage, “And indeed
many other innumerable things happen on earth in accordance with the
courses of the stars, and pass unnoticed by the senses of most men, but
are discovered and understood by the subtle acumen of learned men who
are skilled in this art.”[171] Pedro’s letter further includes some
astrological medicine, interesting in connection with the statement in
another manuscript that he was the physician of Henry I of England. In
this context, too, he shows familiarity with the translations from the
Arabic of Constantinus Africanus.[172]

[Sidenote: Magic and scepticism in the _Disciplina clericalis_.]

Pedro’s _Disciplina clericalis_,[173] although a collection of
oriental tales rather than a work of natural science,[174] contains
one or two passages of interest to us. Asked by a disciple what the
seven arts are, the master gives a list somewhat different from the
common Latin _trivium_ and _quadrivium_, namely, logic, arithmetic,
geometry, physics, music, and astronomy. As to the seventh there is
some dispute, he says. Philosophers who believe in divination make
necromancy the seventh; other philosophers who do not believe in
predictions substitute philosophy; while persons who are ignorant of
philosophy affirm that grammar is one of the seven arts.[175] Thus
while Pedro retains all four arts of the _quadrivium_, he holds only
to logic in the case of the _trivium_, omitting rhetoric entirely
and tending to substitute physics and necromancy for it and grammar.
This tendency away from _belles-lettres_ to a curriculum made up
of logic and philosophy, mathematical and natural science, also
soon became characteristic of Latin learning, while the tendency to
include necromancy as one of the liberal arts or natural sciences,
although less successful, will be found in other writers who are to
be considered in this chapter. In the passage just discussed the
importance of the number seven also receives emphasis, as the master
goes on to speak of other sevens than the arts. One is impressed also
in reading the _Disciplina clericalis_ by a sceptical note concerning
magic and the marvelous properties of natural objects, as in the tale
of the thief who repeated a charm seven times and tried to take hold of
a moonbeam, but as a result fell and was captured, and in the tale of
the Churl and the Bird, who promised his captor, if released, to reveal
three pieces of wisdom.[176] The first was not to believe everyone.
“This saide,” in the quaint wording of the medieval English version,
“the litel brid ascendid vpon the tree and with a sweete voice bigan to
synge: ‘Blessid be god that hath shit and closed the sight of thyn eyen
and taken awey thi wisdam, forwhi if thow haddest sought in the plites
of myn entrailes thow shuldest have founde a jacinct the weight of an
vnce.’” When the churl wept and beat his breast at this announcement of
his lost opportunity, the bird again warned him not to be so credulous.
“And how belivistow that in me shuld be a jacynt the weight of an vnce,
whan I and al my body is nat of somoche weight?”

[Sidenote: John of Seville.]

Apparently the chief and most voluminous translator of astrological
works from Arabic into Latin in the twelfth century was John of
Seville.[177] Although he translated some other mathematical, medical,
and philosophical treatises, the majority of his translations seem
to have been astrological, and they remained in use during the later
middle ages and many of them appeared in print in early editions. So
many Johns[178] are mentioned in medieval manuscripts and even wrote
in almost the same fields as John of Seville that it is not easy to
distinguish his works. Jourdain identified him with a John Avendeath
or Avendehut (Joannes ibn David) who worked with the archdeacon
Gundissalinus under the patronage of Raymond, archbishop of Toledo from
1126 to 1151.[179] John of Seville was perhaps not the man who worked
with Gundissalinus[180] but he certainly appears to have addressed
translations to Archbishop Raymond. Thus in speaking of Costa ben
Luca’s _De differentia spiritus et animae_ we saw that the manuscripts
stated that it was translated by John of Seville from Arabic into Latin
for Archbishop Raymond of Toledo.[181] John of Seville is further
styled of Luna or Limia, in one manuscript as bishop of Luna,[182] and
also seems to be the same person as John of Toledo or of Spain. In
one of the citations of the _Speculum astronomiae_ of Albertus Magnus
he is called “Joannes Ulgembus Hispalensis.”[183] John Paulinus, who
translated a collection of twelve experiments with snakeskin entitled
_Life-saver_ which he discovered when he “was in Alexandria, a city
of the Egyptians,” is in at least one manuscript of his translation
identified with John of Spain.[184]

[Sidenote: Dates in his career.]

Certain dates in the career of John of Seville may be regarded as
fairly well fixed. In the Arabic year 529, or 1135 A. D., he translated
the _Rudiments of Astronomy_ of Alfraganus (Ahmed b. Muh. b. Ketîr
el-Fargânî, or Al-Fargani)[185]; in 1142 A. D. he compiled his own
_Epitome of the Art of Astrology_ or _Quadripartite Work of Judgments
of the Stars_,[186] consisting of _Isagoge in astrologiam_ and four
books of judgments. In 1153 A. D. he translated the _Nativities_ of
Albohali[187] (Yahyâ b. Gâlib, Abû Alî el-Chaiyât), if we accept the
“John of Toledo” who is said to have translated that treatise as the
same person as our John of Spain.[188] John of Spain is sometimes said
to have died in 1157, but Förster argued that the Tarasia, queen of
Spain, to whom the medical portion of the pseudo-Aristotelian _Secret
of Secrets_, translated by John of Spain, was dedicated, was not the
queen of Portugal contemporary with Archbishop Raymond of Toledo, but
queen of Leon from 1176 to 1180; and in 1175 a monk of Mt. Tabor is
called Johannes Hispanus.[189] If a Vienna manuscript is correct in
saying that a marvelous cure for a sore heel which it contains was sent
to Pope Gregory by John of Spain, the pope meant must be Gregory VIII
(1187).[190] There is of course no impossibility in the supposition
that the literary career of John of Spain extended from the days of
Archbishop Raymond to those of Gregory VIII or Queen Tarasia. Still
there is some doubt whether all the works extant under the name John of
Spain were composed by the same individual.[191]

[Sidenote: Further works by him, chiefly astrological.]

Several books dealing with the science of judgments from the stars
by John of Spain are included in the bibliography of deserving works
of astrology in the _Speculum Astronomiae_ of Albertus Magnus, but
are perhaps simply sections of his _Epitome_[192] which, after
discussing in the _Isagoge_ the natures of the signs and planets,
takes up in turn the four main divisions of judicial astrology,
namely; conjunctions and revolutions, nativities, interrogations, and
elections. John seems to have translated several astrological treatises
by Albumasar and Messahala (Mâ-sâ-allâh), the treatise by Thebit
ben Corat on astrological images of which we have already treated,
that by Abenragel (ʿAli b. abî’l-Rigâl, abû’l-Hasan) on elections,
and the _Introduction to the Mystery of Judgments from the Stars_ by
Alchabitius or Alcabitius[193] (ʿAbdelʿazîz b. ʿOtmân el-Qabîsî), which
should not be confused with his own somewhat similar _Ysagoge_. Of
other translations by John of Spain, such as a portion of the _Secret
of Secrets_ of the Pseudo-Aristotle, the twelve experiments with
pulverized snakeskin, and Costa ben Luca’s _De differentia spiritus
et animae_, we treat elsewhere. He was perhaps also the author of a

[Sidenote: John’s experimental astrology.]

The experimental character of John’s own handbook on astrology is
worth noting. In the main, it is true, he follows the works of the
philosophers and astrologers of the past, especially when he finds them
in agreement.[195] Besides constantly alluding to what astrologers
in general or the ancients say on the point in question, he often
cites of the Greeks Ptolemy and Dorotheus (“Dorothius”) and Hermes
and Doronius, but probably through Arabic mediums. He also gives us
the views of the masters of India, and distinguishes as “more recent
masters of this art”[196] the Arabic writers “Alchindus” and Messahala.
The latter he seems to regard as an Indian or at least as skilful in
their methods of judgment.[197] But he also notes when his authorities
are in disagreement[198] or points out that his own experience in many
nativities contradicts their views,[199] against which John’s readers
are warned when they find them in the books of judgments. Even Ptolemy
is twice criticized on the basis of actual experiment.[200] We see
that John was not merely a translator or writer on astrology but an
expert practitioner of the art. He supplements the divergent views of
past authorities, or qualifies their consensus of opinion, by his own
apparently rich experience as a practicing or experimental astrologer.
Indeed, for him the theory and practice of the art, the paths of reason
and experience, are so united that he not merely speaks of “this
reasoning” or view as being “tested by experience,”[201] but seems to
employ the words _ratio_ and _experimentum_ somewhat indiscriminately
for astrological tenet or technique.[202]

[Sidenote: Gundissalinus _De divisione philosophiae_.]

The chief known work of Gundissalinus, the archdeacon who was for a
time perhaps associated with John of Spain in the labor of translation,
is his _De divisione philosophiae_,[203] a treatise which owes much
to the Turkoman Al-Farabi (Muh. b. Muh. b. Tarchân b. Uzlag, Abû Nasr,
el-Fârâbî). If Baur is right in thinking that Gundissalinus made use
of translations by Gerard of Cremona, 1114-1187, in the _De divisione
philosophiae_,[204] it would appear to be a later work than his
translating for Archbishop Raymond, 1130-1150, which perhaps began as
early as 1133.[205]

[Sidenote: Place of magic in the classification of the sciences.]

In the classification and description of the sciences which make up the
bulk of the _De divisione philosophiae_ Gundissalinus gives a certain
place to the occult arts. At the beginning of the book, it is true, the
magic arts are not classed among useful things of the spirit like the
virtues and true sciences (_honestae scientiae_). Neither, however,
are they grouped with pride, avarice, and vain glory as harmful vices,
but are merely classed along with worldly honors as vanities.[206]
“Nigromancy according to physics,” however, is later listed as one of
eight sub-divisions of natural science together with alchemy, medicine,
agriculture, navigation, the science of mirrors, and the sciences of
images and of judgments.[207] Gundissalinus was innocent, however, of
any detailed knowledge of necromancy or indeed of any of the other
sub-divisions except medicine. He explains that he has not yet advanced
as far as these subjects in his studies.[208] He is manifestly simply
copying an Arabic classification, probably from Al-Farabi’s _De ortu
scientiarum_, and one of which we find similar traces in other medieval
Christian authors.[209]

[Sidenote: Al-Farabi _De ortu scientiarum_.]

This little treatise on _The Rise of the Sciences_ by Al-Farabi,
although it occupies only a leaf or two in the manuscripts and has
only recently been printed,[210] is a rather important one to note,
as other of its statements than its eight sub-divisions of natural
science seem to be paralleled in medieval Latin writers. There seems,
for instance, a resemblance between its attitude towards the sciences
and classification of them and that of Roger Bacon in the _Opus
Maius_.[211] Al-Farabi believes in God the Creator, as his opening
words show, and he regards “divine science” as the end and perfection
of the other sciences; “and beyond it investigation does not go, for
it is itself the goal to which all inquiry tends.”[212] At the same
time Al-Farabi emphasizes the importance of natural science, adding
its eight parts to the four divisions of the _quadrivium_--arithmetic,
geometry, astrology, and music, and saying, “Moreover, this last (i.
e. natural) science is greater and broader than any of those sciences
and disciplines (or, than any of those disciplinary sciences).” We need
a science, he says in effect, which deals inclusively with changes
in nature, showing how they are brought about and their causes and
enabling us to repel their harmful action when we wish or to augment
them,--a science of action and passion.[213] This suggestion of applied
science and of a connection between it and magic also reminds one of
Roger Bacon, as does Al-Farabi’s statement later that the beginning of
all sciences is the science of language.

[Sidenote: Gundissalinus on astrology.]

Both for Al-Farabi and Gundissalinus the sciences of images and
judgments were undoubtedly astrological. Gundissalinus himself believes
that the spiritual virtue of the celestial bodies is the efficient
cause, ordained by the Creator, of generation, corruption, and other
natural operations in this corporeal world. He defines _astrologia_
as we would astronomy, while he explains that _astronomia_ is the
science of answering questions from the position of the planets and
signs. There are many such sciences,--geomancy, hydromancy, aeromancy,
pyromancy, chiromancy, and augury; but astronomy is superior to
the rest because it predicts what will befall upon earth from the
dispositions of the heavenly bodies. Gundissalinus also repeats
Isidore’s distinction between _astronomia_ and _astrologia_, and
between the natural and superstitious varieties of “astronomy.”[214]

[Sidenote: Robert Kilwardby, _De ortu sive divisione scientiarum_.]

At this point it may be well to note briefly a later work with a
very similar title to that of Gundissalinus, namely, the _De ortu
sive divisione scientiarum_ of Robert Kilwardby,[215] archbishop
of Canterbury from 1272 to 1279. The work borrows a great deal from
Isidore, Hugh of St. Victor, and Gundissalinus. One of its more
original passages is that in which Kilwardby suggests an alteration
in Hugh’s division of the mechanical arts, omitting theatrical
performances as more suited to Gentiles than Catholics, and arranging
the mechanical arts in a _trivium_ consisting of earth-culture,
food-science, and medicine, and a _quadrivium_ made up of costuming,
armor-making, architecture, and business-courses (_mercatura_), after
the analogy of the seven liberal arts.[216] Kilwardby, as has been
already noted elsewhere, repeats Hugh’s classification of the magic

[Sidenote: Plato of Tivoli.]

Next in importance to John of Spain as a translator of Arabic astrology
in the first half of the twelfth century should probably be ranked
Plato of Tivoli. They seem to have worked independently and sometimes
to have made distinct translations of the same work, as in the case
of the _Nativities_ of Albohali and the _Epistle_ of Messahala.
On the whole, Plato’s translations[218] would appear slightly to
antedate John’s. Haskins has shown, however, that the date 1116,
hitherto assigned for Plato’s translation of the _Liber embadorum_ of
Savasorda, should be 1145.[219] But Plato’s translation of Albohali
is dated 1136, while John’s was not made until 1153.[220] In 1136 is
also dated Plato’s translation of the astrological work of Almansor in
the form of one hundred and fifty or so brief aphorisms, judgments,
propositions, or _capitula_, which later appeared repeatedly in print.
Two years later he turned the famous _Quadripartitum_ of Ptolemy into
Latin. His other translations include Albucasis (Abû’l-Qâsim Chalaf b.
ʿAbbâs el-Zahrâwî) on the astrolabe, Haly (ʿAlî b. Ridwân b. ʿAlî b.
Ğaʿfar, Abû’l-Hasan) on nativities, and a geomancy. Most of Plato’s
translations were produced at Barcelona.

[Sidenote: Robert of Chester.]

In a manuscript at the British Museum[221] one of Plato of Tivoli’s
translations is immediately preceded in the same large clear hand,
different from the smaller and later writing employed in the remainder
of the manuscript, by a translation of the _Judgments_ of the
astrologer Alkindi by Robert of Chester,[222] with an introduction
to “my Hermann,” whom Robert commends highly as an astronomer. A
letter written in 1143 by Peter the Venerable to St. Bernard tells
how in 1141 he had induced two “acute and well trained scholars,” who
were then residing in Spain near the river Ebro, to turn for a time
from the arts of astrology which they had been studying there, and
to translate the Koran. These two translators were the friends whom
we have just mentioned, Hermann of Dalmatia and Robert of Chester.
Robert, too, tells us in the prefatory letter to the translation of the
Koran, completed in 1143, that this piece of work was “a digression
from his principal studies of astronomy and geometry.” Besides such
mathematical treatises as his translations of the _Judicia_ of Alkindi,
the Algebra of Al-Khowarizmi, a treatise on the astrolabe ascribed to
Ptolemy, and several sets of astronomical tables, including a revision
or rearrangement of Adelard of Bath’s translation of the Tables of
Al-Khowarizmi, Robert on February 11, 1144, translated a treatise on
alchemy which Morienus Romanus, a monk of Jerusalem, was supposed to
have written for “Calid, king of Egypt,” or Prince Khalid ibn Jazid,
a Mohammedan pretender and patron of learning at Alexandria. Of it we
shall treat more fully in another chapter. About 1150 we seem to find
Robert returned to his native England and writing at London.[223]

[Sidenote: Hermann the Dalmatian.]

Hermann the Dalmatian, or twelfth century translator, must be
distinguished on the one hand from Hermann the Lame who wrote on
the astrolabe,[224] and apparently on the other hand from Hermann
the German who translated Averroes and Aristotle in the thirteenth
century.[225] To the twelfth century translator we may ascribe
such works as a treatise on rains,[226] a brief glossary of Arabic
astronomical terms,[227] and Latin versions of the _Planisphere_
of Ptolemy,[228] of the astrological _Fatidica_ of Zahel,[229] and
of the _Introduction to Astronomy_ in eight books of the noted
Arabic astrologer Albumasar, a work often entitled _Searching of the
Heart_ or _Of Things Occult_.[230] Hermann dedicated it to Robert of
Chester, whom he also mentions in the preface of his translation of
the _Planisphere_,[231] and in his chief work, the _De essentiis_, a
cosmology which he finished at Béziers in the latter part of the same
year 1143.[232]

[Sidenote: Hugh of Santalla.]

Hugo Sanctelliensis or Hugh of Santalla[233] is another translator of
the first half of the twelfth century in the Spanish peninsula who
appears to have worked independently of the foregoing men, since he to
some extent translated the same works, for instance, the _Centiloquium_
ascribed to Ptolemy, Latin versions of which have also been credited to
Plato of Tivoli and John of Seville. Hugh’s translations are undated
but at least some of them may have antedated those of the men already
mentioned,[234] since Haskins has identified Hugh’s patron, “my
lord, Bishop Michael,” with the holder of the see of Tarazona from
1119 to 1151. Hugh’s nine known translations are concerned with works
of astronomy, astrology, and divination. Those on astrology include,
besides the _Centiloquium_ already mentioned, Albumasar’s _Book of
Rains_, Messahala on nativities, and a _Book of Aristotle from 255
volumes of the Indians_, of which we shall have more to say in the
chapter on the Pseudo-Aristotle. The works on other forms of divination
are a geomancy[235] and _De spatula_, a treatise on divination from
the shoulder-blades of animals. In the preface to the geomancy he
promises to treat next of hydromancy but says that he has failed to
find books of aeromancy or pyromancy.[236] Although, as has been said,
Hugh seems to have labored independently of the other translators
and in a somewhat out-of-the-way town, he nevertheless seems to have
felt himself in touch with the learning of his time. In his various
prefaces, like William of Conches, he speaks of “moderns” as well as
the arcana of the ancients,[237] and his patron is continually urging
him to write not only what he has gathered from the books of the
ancients but what he has learned by experiment.[238] In the preface
to his translation of Albumasar’s _Book of Rains_ he tells Bishop
Michael that “what the modern astrologers of the Gauls most bemoan
their lack of, your benignity may bestow upon posterity,”[239] and the
distribution of manuscripts of his translations in European libraries
indicates that they were widely influential.

[Sidenote: A contemporary memorial of Gerard of Cremona.]

The best source for the life and works of Gerard of Cremona[240]
(1114-1187) is a memorandum attached by his friends to what was
presumably his last work, a translation of the _Tegni_ of Galen with
the commentary of Haly, in imitation of Galen who in old age was
induced to draw up a list of his own works. Gerard, however, is already
dead when his associates write, having worked right up to life’s close
and passed away in 1187 at the age of seventy-three. They state that
from the very cradle he was educated in the lap of philosophy, and
that he learned all he could in every department of it studied among
the Latins. Then, moved by his passion for the Almagest, which he
found nowhere among the Latins, he came to Toledo. There, beholding
the abundance of books in every field in Arabic and the poverty
of the Latins in this respect, he devoted his life to the labor of
translation, scorning the desires of the flesh, although he was rich in
worldly goods, and adhering to things of the spirit alone. He toiled
for the advantage of all both present and future, not unmindful of
the injunction of Ptolemy to work good increasingly as you near your
end. Now, that his name may not be hidden in silence and darkness,
and that no alien name may be inscribed by presumptuous thievery in
his translations, the more so since he (like Galen) never signed his
own name to any of them, they have drawn up a list of all the works
translated by him whether in dialectic or geometry, in “astrology” or
philosophy, in medicine or in the other sciences.[241]

[Sidenote: Account by a pupil of his astrological teaching.]

Another contemporary picture of Gerard’s activity at Toledo is provided
us by the Englishman, Daniel of Morley, or _de Merlai_, who went to
Spain to study the sciences of the _quadrivium_. He tells how Gerard of
Toledo (_Gerardus tholetanus_), interpreting the Almagest in Latin with
the aid of Galippus, the Mozarab,[242] asserted that various future
events followed necessarily from the movements and influences of the
stars. Daniel was at first astounded by this utterance and brought
forward the arguments against the _mathematici_ or astrologers in the
homily of St. Gregory. But Gerard answered them all glibly. It should
perhaps be added that in another passage Daniel without mentioning
Gerard speaks of setting down in Latin what he learned concerning the
universe in the speech of Toledo from Galippus, the Mozarab.[243]
Gerard’s translation of the Almagest seems to have been completed in
1175,[244] but meanwhile in Sicily an anonymous translation from the
Greek had appeared, probably soon after 1160. Of it we shall presently
have something to say. Gerard’s version was, however, the generally
accepted one, as the number of manuscripts and citations of it show.

[Sidenote: Character of Gerard’s translations.]

But to return to the list of Gerard’s translations. Only three of the
long list are strictly dialectical, Aristotle’s _Posterior Analytics_,
the commentary of Themistius upon them, and Alfarabi on the syllogism.
And only one or two of the translations listed under the heading
_De phylosophya_ are pure philosophy.[245] Most of Gerard’s work is
mathematical and medical, natural and occult science. He translates
Ptolemy and Euclid; Archimedes, Galen and Aristotle; Autolycus and
Theodosius; and such writers in Arabic as Alkindi, Alfarabi, Albucasis,
Alfraganus, Messahala, Thebit, Geber, Alhazen, Isaac, Rasis, and
Avicenna. His mathematical translations include the fields of algebra
and perspective as well as geometry and astronomy. Of Aristotle’s
natural philosophy the list includes the _Physics_, _De coelo et
mundo_, _De generatione et corruptione_, _De meteoris_ except the
fourth and last book which he could not find,[246] and the first part
of the astrological _De causis proprietatum et elementorum_ ascribed
to Aristotle. Among his translations of Galen was the apocryphal _De
secretis_, of which we shall have more to say in a later chapter on
books of experiments. Three treatises of alchemy are included in the
list of his translations and also a geomancy, although Boncompagni
tries to saddle the latter upon Gerardus de Sabloneto. Gerard is also
supposed to have translated some works not mentioned in this list but
ascribed to him in the manuscripts. One of interest to us is a work on
stones of the Pseudo-Aristotle.[247]

[Sidenote: Science and religion in the preface to a translation of the
_Almagest_ from the Greek.]

We must say a word of the anonymous Sicilian translation of the
_Almagest_ which preceded that of Gerard of Cremona, because of a
defense in its preface[248] of natural science against a theological
opposition of which the anonymous translator appears to be painfully
conscious. After darkly hinting that he was prevented from speedily
completing the translation by “other secret” obstacles[249] as well as
by the manifest fact that he did not understand “the science of the
stars” well,[250] and remarking that the artisan can hope for nothing
where the art is in disrepute, the translator inveighs against those
who rashly judge things about which they know nothing, and who, lest
they seem ignorant themselves, call what they do not know useless
and profane. Hence the Arabs say that there is no greater enemy of
an art than one who is unacquainted with it. So far the tone of the
preface reminds one strongly of those of William of Conches. The writer
proceeds to complain that the opposition to mathematical studies has
gone so far that “the science of numbers and mensuration is thought
entirely superfluous and useless, while the study of astronomy (i.
e. astrology) is esteemed idolatry.”[251] Yet Remigius tells us that
Abraham taught the Egyptians “astrology” (i. e. astronomy), and the
translator ironically adds that he supposes it can be shown from Moses
and Daniel that God condemned the science of the stars. He then dilates
on how essential it is to study and understand the created world before
rising to study of the Creator, and waxes sarcastic at the expense
of those who study theology before they know anything else and think
themselves able like eagles to soar aloft at once above the clouds,
disdaining earth and earthly things, and to gaze unblinded upon the
full sun:[252]--a passage somewhat similar to Roger Bacon’s diatribe
against the “boy-theologians” in the following century.

[Sidenote: Arabs and moderns.]

The translator, although his own rendition is from a Greek manuscript,
shows some familiarity with Arabic learning. Besides the Arabic saying
already quoted, in giving the Greek title of Ptolemy’s thirteen books
on astronomy he adds that the Saracens call it by the corrupt name,
_elmeguisti_ (i. e. _Almagest_).[253] He also acknowledges the aid
he has received from Eugene, the admiral or emir, whose translation
of Ptolemy’s _Optics_ from the Arabic we have mentioned elsewhere,
and whom he describes as equally skilled in Greek and Arabic, and
“also not ignorant of Latin.” It may also be noted that as Adelard
of Bath contrasted “the writings of men of old” with “the science of
moderns,”[254] so this translator characterizes Ptolemy as _veterum
lima, specculum modernorum_.

[Sidenote: Astronomy at Marseilles.]

This seems the best place to call attention to some evidence for the
existence of astronomical, and apparently also astrological, activity
at Marseilles in the twelfth century, seemingly under the influence of
the Arabic astronomy and astrology. In a manuscript at Paris which the
catalogue dates of the twelfth century[255] is a treatise formerly
said to have been composed at Marseilles in the year 1111 A. D. But
Duhem has suggested that the XI should be XL, since the author tells of
a dispute at Marseilles in 1139.[256] The text tells how to find the
location of the planets for the city of Marseilles and is accompanied
by astronomical tables imitating Azarchel. The same treatise appears
in a manuscript at Cambridge,[257] written before the year 1175,
where it is entitled “The Book of the Courses of the Seven Planets
for Marseilles” and seems to be attributed to a Raymond of that city.
Duhem notes that our author often cites an earlier treatise of his, _De
compositione astrolabii_. The treatise opens with allusion to “many
of the Indians and Chaldeans and Arabs”; the author also says, “And
since we were the first of the Latins to whom this science came after
the translation of the Arabs,” and avers that he employs the Christian
calendar and chronology in order to avoid all appearance of heresy or
infidelity. So we would seem to be justified in connecting it with the
diffusion of Arabic astronomy and astrology. Our author believes that
God endowed the sky with the virtue of presaging the future, cites
various authorities sacred and profane in favor of astrology, and
emphasizes especially the importance of astrological medicine.[258]
It was also at Marseilles that William of England early in the next
century in the year 1219 wrote his brief but very popular treatise,
found in many manuscripts, entitled “Of Urine Unseen” (_De urina non
visa_), that is, how by astrology to diagnose a case and tell the color
and substance of the urine without seeing it. Of it we shall treat
again later in connection with thirteenth century medicine. But we may
note here that William, although of English nationality, was a citizen
of Marseilles, and that the person to whom his work _Of Urine Unseen_
was addressed had formerly studied with him at Marseilles. William is
also spoken of as a professor of medicine. Furthermore in at least one
manuscript William of England is called a translator from the Arabic,
since he is said to have translated from that tongue into Latin “The
very great Secret of Catenus, king of the Persians, concerning the
virtue of the eagle.”[259] We may also note that it was in reply to
inquiries which he had received from Jews of Marseilles that Moses
Maimonides in 1194 addressed to them his letter on astrology.[260]
Interest in astronomy and astrology thus appears to have prevailed at
Marseilles from the first half to the close of the twelfth century.


[159] Especially by Professor C. H. Haskins, who has corrected or
supplemented Steinschneider and others on various points, and who has
other studies in preparation in addition to those to be mentioned in
ensuing footnotes of this chapter.

[160] The passage is reproduced by C. H. Haskins, “The Reception of
Arabic Science in England,” EHR 30, 57, from Bodleian Auct. F-i-9
(Bernard 4137), fols. 86-99.

[161] In the MS mentioned in the preceding note, “Sententia Petri Ebrei
cognomento Anphus de dracone quam dominus Walcerus prior Malvernensis
ecclesie in latinam transtulit linguam;” Haskins, _Ibid._, p. 58. I
also note in Schum’s _Verzeichniss_, Amplon. Quarto 351, 14th century,
fols. 15-23, the _De dracone_ of Petrus Alphonsus with a table,
translated into Latin by “Walter Millvernensis prior.” After two
intervening tracts concerning the astrolabe by another author the same
MS contains “Alfoncius,” _De disciplina clericali_.

[162] But not the same apparently as an Alfonsus of Toledo, to whom
Steinschneider (1905) p. 4, has called attention, and who translated
a work by Averroes (1126-1198) preserved in Digby 236, 14th century,
fol. 190. Its prologue speaks of an abridgement of the Almagest by
Averroes which Alfonso the Great (presumably Alfonso X or the Wise of
Castile, 1252-1284) had had translated and which was in circulation in
Spain and at Bologna. From the Explicit of the same treatise one would
infer that two Alfonsos were engaged in its translation, one a son of
Dionysius of Lisbon, and the other a convert, who became a sacristan
at Toledo:--“_et iste tractatus translatus fuit a magistro Alfonsio
Dionysii de Ulixbona Hispano apud Vallem Toleti, interprete magistro
Alfonso converso, sacrista Toletano_.” The treatise is followed at
fol. 194v by a “Narration concerning Averroes and the Saracen king of
Cordova,” which opens, “This is worth knowing which was told me by
Alfonso, a trustworthy Jew, physician of the king of Castile.”

[163] Amplon. Quarto 351, as noted in note 2 on the preceding page.

[164] Corpus Christi 283, late 12th century, fols. 113-44, “Dixit
Petrus Anfulsus servus Ihesu Christi translatorque huius libri ...”,
quoted by Haskins, EHR 30, 60.

[165] CU Ii, vi, 11, fol. 95. “Dixit Petrus Amphulsus servus Christi
Ihesu Henrici primi regis Anglorum medicus compositor huius libri”;
quoted by Haskins, _Ibid._, 61. Pedro would hardly have called Henry
“first”, so the heading is perhaps not entirely genuine.

[166] Arundel 270, late 12th century, fols. 40v-44v, Epistola de studio
artium liberalium praecipue astronomiae ad peripateticos aliosque
philosophicos ubique per Franciam.

[167] So far as I can judge from Professor Haskins’ description of and
brief excerpts from them; he does not notice the Arundel MS.

[168] This occurs at fol. 43r in the midst of the treatise; at the
beginning, in addressing the Peripatetics and other philosophers
and students throughout France, the writer calls himself, “_Petrus
Anidefunfus_, servant of Jesus Christ, and their brother and fellow

[169] See fol. 42v, “Ceterum in nostro translationis inicio prologum
dictare curavimus de veritate videlicet artis.”

[170] Fol. 44v, “Probatum est ergo argumento experimentali quod re vera
possumus affirmare solem et lunam aliosque planetas in terrenis viras
(_sic_) suas exercere.” A little further along on the same page he
employs the same phrase again, “Ostensum est quod eodem experimentali

[171] Fols. 44v-45r, “Multa quidem alia et innumerabilia iuxta syderum
cursus in terra contingunt atque vulgarium sensus hominum non attingit,
prudentium vero atque huius artis peritorum subtile acumen penetrat et

[172] Fol. 41v, “sicut Constantinus in libro suo quem de lingua
saracena transtulit in latinam testatur.”

[173] The most recent edition of the Latin text is A. Hilka and W.
Söderhjelm, _Petri Alfonsi Disciplina Clericalis_, 1911. An English
version from a 15th century MS in Worcester Cathedral was edited by W.
H. Hulme in _The Western Reserve University Bulletin_, 1919.

[174] In the preface (Hulme’s translation, p. 13) Pedro says, “I have
composed this little book partly from the sayings and warnings of the
philosophers, partly from Arabic proverbs and admonitions both in prose
and verse, and partly from fables about animals and birds.”

[175] _Discip. cleric._, I, 9.

[176] _Discip. cleric._, XVII, 48.

[177] The fullest list of his translations that I know of is in
Steinschneider (1905) pp. 41-50.

[178] See Appendix I at the close of this chapter for a list of some of

[179] Jourdain (1819) pp. 113 _et seq._, 449.

[180] A difficulty is that John of Seville’s translations are
usually described as direct from the Arabic and nothing is said of
Gundissalinus, whereas in the preface to Avicenna’s _De anima_ John
Avendeath tells the archbishop that he has translated it word for word
from Arabic into Spanish, and that Dominicus Gundisalvus has then
rendered the vernacular into Latin: Steinschneider (1893) pp. 981 and
380, note 2; J. Wood Brown (1897) p. 117; Karpinski (1915) pp. 23-4.
But perhaps John learned Latin as time passed. However, as far as I
know, there is no MS where John of Spain is definitely called John
Avendeath or _vice versa_.

[181] For example, S. Marco X-57, 13th century, fols. 278-83; Avranches
232, 13th century; BN 6296, 14th century, #15.

[182] Amplon. Quarto 365, 14th century, fols. 100-19, Liber Haomar
de nativitatibus in astronomia ... quem transtulit mag. Iohannes
Hyspalensis et Lunensis epyscopus ex Arabico in Latinum. “Bishop” is
omitted in Digby 194, 15th century, fol. 127v, “Perfectus est liber
universus Aomar Benigan Tyberiadis cum laude Dei et eius auxilio quem
transtulit magister Johannes Hispalensis atque Limensis de Arabico in
Latinum.” Likewise in CU Clare College 15 (Kk. 4. 2), c. 1280 A. D.,
fol. 64v.

[183] _Spec. astron._, cap. 2.

[184] Arundel 251, 14th century, fol. 35v, “Cum ego Johannis

Steinschneider (1905) p. 51, lists “Johannes Pauli, oder Paulini,” as
distinct from John of Spain. I shall treat of the _Salus vitae_ in a
later chapter on “Experiments and Secrets of Galen, Rasis and Others:
II. Chemical and Magical.” See below, chapter 65, page 794.

[185] Printed in 1497, 1537, and 1546 as _Brevis ac perutilis
compilatio_ or _Rudimenta astronomiae_. Digby 190, 13-14th century,
fol. 87, gives the Arabic year as 529, while its 1173 should obviously
not be A. D. but of the Spanish era. Corpus Christi 224 gives the
Arabic year as 528, and the era date has been altered to clxx. m.
(1170), probably from mclxxiii (1173), the initial ‘m’ dropping out,
and the final ‘iii’ in consequence being misread by a copyist as
‘m.’ The same careless copyist has perhaps dropped an ‘i’ from the
arabic year. In BN 6506 and 7377B, according to Jourdain (1819) pp.
115-6, the Arabic year is 529, but the other 1070, a further error. I
suppose this is the same treatise as the _Liber in scientia astrorum
et radicibus motuum celestium_ or _Theoria planetarum et stellarum_
of “_El-Fargânî_” which Sudhoff (1917) p. 27, following J. Brinkmann,
_Die apokryphen Gesundheitsregeln des Aristoteles_, 1914, says John of
Toledo translated into Latin in 1134.

[186] _Epitome totius astrologiae conscripta a Ioanne Hispalensi
Hispano astrologo celeberrimo ante annos quadringentos ac nunc primum
in lucem edita. Cum praefatione Ioachimi Helleri Leucopetraei contra
astrologiae aduersarios. Noribergae in officina Ioannis Montani et
Ulrici Neuber, Anno Domini M.D.XLVIII._ The date 1142 is given at fol.
18r and at the close, fol. 87v.

Steinschneider (1905), p. 41, “im Jahre 1142 kompilierte er, nach
arabischen Mustern, eine _Epitome totius astrologiae_, ed. 1548, deren
Teile (_Isagoge_ und _Quadripart_.) mit besonderen Titeln vielleicht in
einzelnen mss. zu erkennen wären.”

In the 14th century MSS, S. Marco XI-102, fols. 107-31, and XI-104,
fols. 1-30, the title is “epitome artis astrologiae.” Vienna 5442, 15th
century, fols. 158r-79v, Opus quadripartitum de iudiciis astrorum, has
the same Incipit, “Zodiacus dividitur in duodecim....” See also Amplon.
Octavo 84, 14th century, fols. 1-37, and Quarto 377, 14th century,
fols. 7-11, Iudicia Iohannis Hispalensis, and BN 7321, 1448 A. D.,
fols. 122r-154v, “Incipiunt ysagoge Iohannis Hyspalensis cum parte
astrologie iudiciali.”

[187] Laud. Misc. 594, 14-15th century, fols. 94-106, Liber Albohali
de nativitatibus translatus a Johanne Toletano. “Perfectus est liber
Nativitatis mense Julii anno ab Incarnatione Domini millesimo cliii cum
laude Dei et ejus auxilio.”

CU Clare College 15 (Kk. 4, 2), c. 1280 A. D., fols. 39-47, does not
name the translator but gives the date as 1153, and the same MS,
fols. 24-9, contains John of Seville’s translations of a work on the
astrolabe in 40 chapters, of treatises by Messahalla at fols. 48-55,
and Aomar at fols. 56-64.

Royal 12-C-XVIII, 14th century, fols. 2-9v, ends incomplete, but a
colophon added in another hand gives the date as 1152.

The work was printed at Nürnberg, 1546.

There is a different translation of it, made by Plato of Tivoli in 1136
A. D., in Cotton Appendix VI, fol. 163-, Aubueli liber in judiciis
nativitatum quem Plato Tiburtinus ex Arabico sumpsit Ao. Arabum 530 et
alexandri 1447 in civitate Barkelona.

[188] Steinschneider ascribes the translation of Albohali to John
of Spain; the Catalogue of the Royal Manuscripts says that Johannes
Toletanus is possibly the same as John of Spain. Sudhoff (1917), p. 17,
identifies “Johann von Toledo (Hispanus, Avendehut).”

Perhaps, however, the John of Toledo to whom a treatise entitled, _De
conservanda sanitate_, is ascribed in two 14th century MSS at Paris, BN
6978, #1 and 16222, fol. 76-; also Berlin 905, 15th century, fol. 74-;
CU Gonville and Caius 95, 15th century, fol. 283-; was not the same

Rose, in the Berlin MSS catalogue, identifies this last John of Toledo
with a John David of Toledo who in 1322 joined with other astrologers
in issuing a threatening circular letter predicting terrible events for
the year 1329. See Amplon. Quarto 371 for another such letter for the
year 1371, and Amplon. Octavo 79 for tables of conjunctions of the sun
and moon for the years 1346-1365 by a John of Toledo.

[189] R. Förster, _De Aristotelis quae feruntur physiognomonicis
recensendis_, Killiae, 1882, pp. 26-27; J. Wood Brown (1897), 35; HL
XXX, 369.

[190] Vienna 5311, 14-15th century, fol. 41v.

[191] A work that I have not before seen ascribed to him is, Perugia
683, 15th century, fols. 393-6, “Incipit summa magistri Iohannis yspani
super arborem de consanguineitate.”

Steinschneider fails, I think, to note in his list of John’s
translations an “introductio de cursu planetarum” (St. John’s 188, late
13th century, fol. 99v-) which he translated from Arabic into Latin at
the request of two “Angligenarum, Gauconis scilicet et Willelmi.”

[192] However, the _Incipits_ given by Albert do not agree very well
with those of the sections of the _Epitome_ in the printed text of
1548. See chapter 42 for the resemblance between this printed text and
a treatise in MS ascribed to Roger of Hereford.

[193] Arundel 268, 13-14th century, fols. 7v-23r, Abdolaziz Arabis
libellus ad judicium astrorum introductorius qui dicitur Alkabitius,
interprete Johanne Hispalensi.

S. Marco XI-104, 14th century, fols. 79-102, Alcabitii ad iudicia
astrorum interpretatum a Iohanne Hispalensi.

BN 7321, 1448 A. D., fols. 1-79r, Introductorium ad magisterium
iudiciorum astrorum.

[194] S. Marco XI-105, 14th century, fols. 54-61, “Cyromancia est ars
demonstrans mores et inclinationes naturales per signa sensibilia
manuum.” Valentinelli comments, “Eadem fortasse cum chiromantia Ioannis
Hispalensis quam inter codices manuscriptos Ioannis Francisci Lauredani
Tomasinus refert.”

[195] _Epitome_, II, xx, “Iam radicem nativitatis secundum
philosophorum dicta complevimus nec edidimus nisi ea in quibus
sapientes convenerunt et ex quibus experimentum habetur.”

[196] _Epitome_, III, viii, “Iuniores huius artis magistri dicunt posse
inveniri locum thesauri absconditi quod veteres discreti omiserunt....”

[197] _Ibid._, “Messehala autem Indorum in iudiciis solertissimus

[198] _Epitome_, III, xii, “... in quaestione autem quis victurus
astrologi discordati sunt....”

[199] _Epitome_, II, x, “Sed expertum est in nativitatibus multis hoc
abrogari etiam cum omnes rationes praedictae simul convenerint cuius
rei meminimus ne in libris inveniendo fidem daremus.”

[200] The passage just quoted in the preceding note continues, “Porro
Ptolemaeus dicit ... sed experti sumus multoties hoc non recipi.” See
also the following chapter of the _Epitome_, II, xi.

[201] _Epitome_, II, xxii, “... et est ratio experimentata haec....”

[202] See III, xii, where, after stating the discordant views of
astrologers he says, “Hanc vero postremam rationem experimentis
caeteris preponimus.”

[203] Ed. Ludwig Baur, in _Beiträge_, IV, 2-3, Münster, 1903, pp. 1-144
text; pp. 145-408 “Untersuchung.” Another work by Gundissalinus on the
immortality of the soul was published in the same series by G. F. von
Hertling, 1897.

Baur unfortunately failed to note the existence of the _De divisione
philosophiae_ in two 13th century MSS at the British Museum in the
Sloane collection, nor does Scott’s Index catalogue of the Sloane MSS
mention Gundissalinus as their author.

Sloane 2946, 13th century, fols. 209-16, “de philosophia ... auctore
Isaaco philosopho.” But the Incipit, “Felix prior aetas qui (quae)
tot sapientes ...” is that of Gundissalinus’ treatise. The erroneous
ascription to Isaac is probably owing to the fact that the treatise
just preceding, at fols. 205-208v, is a translation of a medical work
by Isaac. This MS is mutilated towards the close so that the leaves
containing our text have the upper right hand corner torn off, thus
removing nearly one-sixth of the text. The colophon reads, “Explicit
hoc opus a domino Gundissalini apud Tholetum editum, sdens (succedens?)
de assignanda causa ex qua orte sunt scientie philosophie et ordo
eorum et disciplina.” Similarly in Baur’s text the _De divisione
philosophiae_ at pp. 1-142 is followed at pp. 142-44 by Alfarabi’s
“Epistola de assignanda causa ex qua orte sunt scientie philosophie et
ordo earum in disciplina.”

Sloane 2461, late 13th century, fols. 1-38r, contains the _De divisione
philosophiae_ under the caption, _Compendium scientiarum_, without
indication of the author. It also is immediately followed at fols.
38v-40r by _De unitate_, which Baur found in another MS at the close of
Gundissalinus’ _De divisione philosophiae_, and in a third MS before
the above mentioned letter of Alfarabi.

A MS now lost is, Library of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, 1175,
Gundisalvus de ortu et divisione scientiarum.

Cotton Vespasian B-X, fols. 24-27, Alpharabius de divisione omnium
scientiarum, is not the treatise of Gundissalinus, as I was at first
inclined to suspect that it might turn out to be upon examination.

Alfarabi’s _De scientiis_ was published in his _Opera omnia_ by
Camerarius at Paris in 1638 from a MS which the preface represented
as a recent discovery. Baur, p. viii, states that this text differs
considerably from the Latin version by Gerard of Cremona, but that the
borrowings of Gundissalinus from Alfarabi and the citations in Vincent
of Beauvais’ _Speculum doctrinale_ agree with this 1638 text rather
than with Gerard’s.

[204] Baur (1903), p. 163.

[205] Karpinski (1915), p. 23.

[206] Baur, pp. 4-5.

[207] Baur, p. 20.

[208] Baur, p. 89.

[209] See Daniel Morley on the eight parts of astrology in chapter 42
below, p. 177.

[210] I have read it in two MSS at Paris, where, however, the text
seems faulty: BN 6298, 14th century, fols. 160r-161v, and BN 14700,
fols. 328v-330v. It opens, “Scias nihil esse nisi substantia et
accidens et creatorem substantie et accidentis in secula.” Printed in
_Beiträge_, xix.

[211] For Bacon’s views see below, chapter 61.

[212] BN 6298, fol. 160v; BN 14700, fol. 330r. “Scientia divina que est
finis scientiarum et perfectio earum. Et non restat post illam ulla
inquisitio. Ipsa enim est finis ad quem tendit omnis inquisitio et in
ea quiescit.”

[213] “Et imo opus erat (fuit) scientia que hoc totum ostendit scilicet
per quam veniremus ad huiusmodi permutationis scientiam (perveniremus
ad scientiam huius permutationis) qualiter fiat et que sint eius
actiones nocentes (occasiones et cause et quomodo possemus removere has
occasiones nocentes) cum vellemus repellere et quomodo cum vellemus
possemus eas augere. Hec igitur scientia fuit scientia de naturis que
est scientia de actione et passione.” The passages in parentheses are
the variant readings in one of the two MSS.

[214] For the passages cited in this paragraph see Baur, 6, 115, 119-21.

[215] Baur, who lists MSS of the work at p. 368 and presents an
analysis of it at pp. 369-75, gives the title as _De ortu et divisione
philosophiae_, but the two 13th century MSS at Oxford, Balliol 3 and
Merton 261, seem to prefer the form which I have given. I have looked
through the text in Balliol 3, a beautifully written MS, but, in
view of Kilwardby’s date, scarcely of the early 13th century, as it
is described in the catalogue. Hauréau regarded the work as clear,
accurate, and worth printing.

[216] Cap. 40.

[217] Cap. 67.

[218] Listed by Steinschneider (1905), pp. 62-6.

[219] C. H. Haskins, in EHR (1911), 26, 491 note.

[220] See page 75 of this chapter, note 2.

[221] Cotton, Appendix VI.

[222] For the biography and bibliography of Robert of Chester see L.
C. Karpinski, _Robert of Chester’s Latin Translation of the Algebra of
Al-Khowarizmi_, New York, 1915, especially pp. 26-32; C. H. Haskins,
_The Reception of Arabic Science in England_, EHR 30 (1915), 62-5;
Steinschneider (1905), pp. 67-73.

[223] Karpinski (1915), pp. 26, 29-30.

[224] See above, chapter 30, I, 702-3. Besides the articles of Clerval
and Haskins there mentioned we may note A. A. Björnbo, _Hermannus
Dalmata als Uebersetzer astronomischer Arbeiten_, in _Bibliotheca
Mathematica_, VI (1903), third series, pp. 130-3.

[225] Steinschneider (1905), pp. 32-5. He says, “Hermannus Alemannus,
oder Teutonicus, Germanicus, soll um 1240-1260 Lehrer des Roger Bacon
in Toledo (?) gewesen sein,” but I do not know where he gets the notion
that Hermann was Roger’s teacher. The following works ascribed to
Hermannus Theutonicus by Denifle (1886), p. 231,--and not mentioned by
Steinschneider--seem to indicate another person of that name: “(41)
fr. Hermannus Theutonicus de Cerwist (Zerbst) scripsit postillam super
cantica; (50) fr. Hermannus Theutonicus scripsit librum de ascensu
cordis. Item super Cantica. Item de arte precandi.” In Vienna 2507,
13th century, fols. 85-123, an Ars dictandi is attributed to “Magistri

On the part taken by Hermannus Alemannus in the translation of
Aristotle in the thirteenth century see further Grabmann (1916), pp.
208-12, 217-22, etc., where translations of his are connected with the
dates 1240 and 1254.

[226] Clare College 15 (Kk. 4. 2), c. 1280 A. D., fols. 1-2r,
Hermannus, liber imbrium, “Cum multa et varia de imbrium cognicione
precepta Indorum tradat auctoritas ... / ... plerumque etiam imbres
occurrunt set steriles” Iafar on rains immediately follows.

Vienna 2436, 14th century, fols. 134v-136v, “Cum multa et varia ... /
... eciam ymbres occurrant sed mediocres. Finitur Hermanni liber de
ymbribus et pluviis.”

Dijon 1045, 15th century, fols. 187-91 (following Hermann’s translation
of Albumasar), “de pluviis ab Hermano (de) Kanto (?) a judico in
latinum translatus. Cum multa et varia de nubium cognicione ... / ...
occurrunt sed steriles.”

[227] In CUL 2022 (Kk. IV. 7), 15th century, fol. 116, however, such
a short glossary preceding prognostications of famine is said to be
“secundum Hermannum Teutonicum.”

[228] Printed Basel, 1536; and Venice, 1558. J. L. Heiberg, _Claudii
Ptolemaei Opera quae exstant omnia_, II, pp. clxxxiii-vi; Karpinski
(1915), p. 32; Haskins (1915), p. 62; Suter (1914), p. ix.

[229] Or Sahl ben Biŝr ben Hânî, Abû ʿOtmân. Steinschneider (1905),
p. 34, and (1906) pp. 54-5, ascribes the translation to Hermann
the Dalmatian; see, too, CUL 2022, 15th century, fols. 102r-115v,
pronostica Zahel Iben Bixir, Hermanni secundi translatio. But in Digby
114, 14th century, fols. 176-99, “Explicit fetidica Zael Benbinxeir
Caldei. Translacio hec mam. Gi. astronomie libri anno Domini 1138, 3
kal. Octobris translatus est.”

[230] Printed at Augsburg in 1489 and in other editions; it opens,
“Astronomie iudiciorum omnium bispertita est via....”

[231] Suter (1914), pp. xiii, xviii, interprets Hermann’s words, “Quem
locum a Ptolemaeo minus diligenter perspectum cum Albatene miratur et
Alchoarismus, quorum hunc quidam opera nostra Latium habet, illius
vero commodissima translatio Roberti mei industria Latinae orationis
thesaurum accumulat,” to mean that Robert translated Al-Battani, but
in view of Robert’s known translations of Al-Khowarizmi, I should
translate _hunc_ as “former” in this case and regard Hermann as the
translator of Al-Battani.

[232] Professor Haskins wrote me on July 26, 1921, “The _De essentiis_
is an interesting work of cosmology; when I am able to work it over
more carefully I shall print the article on Hermann, now long overdue.”

[233] The best treatment of Hugh is, C. H. Haskins, “The Translations
of Hugo Sanctelliensis,” in _The Romanic Review_, II (1911), 1-15,
where attention is called to translations not noted by Steinschneider,
and the prefaces of seven extant translations are printed.

[234] I cannot, however, agree with Professor Haskins (p. 10), that
“From certain phrases in the preface” (of Hugh’s translation of the
_Liber Aristotilis de 255 indorum voluminibus_) “it would seem that,
while Hugo has been for some time a devotee of Arabian science, he
has only recently (_nunc_) and comparatively late in the day (_serus
ac indignus minister_) entered the bishop’s service.” It seems to me
that the last phrase should read _servus ac indignus minister_, for
Hugh had already translated at least one other work for the bishop
before this one on the 255 books of the Indians, and in the present
preface he alludes to many previous discussions between them and to the
bishop’s continually exhorting him to publish, so that one would infer
that they had been associated for some time past. Since writing this I
have learned both from Mr. H. H. E. Craster of the Bodleian and from
Professor Haskins himself that the reading in the MS (Digby 159, fol.
1v) is “seruus” or _servus_, as I have it in the rough notes I took on
the treatise in August, 1919.

[235] The following MSS may be noted in addition to those (BN 7453
and Florence, Laur. II-85, Plut. 30, c. 29) listed by Steinschneider
(1905), pp. 35-6, and Haskins (1911), p. 13.

CU Magdalene 27, late 14th century, fols. 1-66, “Ludus philosophorum
qui apellatur filius (?) Astronomie. Rerum opifex deus qui sine
exemplo nova condidit universa ... Ego sanctelliensis geomantie
interpretacionem (instead of inscriptionem as given by Haskins from
BN 7453) ingredior et tibi mi domine tirasonensis antistes....”
James adds, “On a Latin version of a tract of Apollonius, by Hugo
Sanctelliensis in MS Bib. Nat. Lat. 14951, see F. Nau in _Revue de
l’Orient Latin_, 1908,” but in a note of 21 June 1921 Dr. James informs
me that one should read _Orient Chrétien_ in place of _Orient Latin_.

Vienna 5508, 14th century, fols. 182-200, Hugo Sacelliensis sive
Saxaliensis, Geomantia, “Rerum opifex deus ... / ... sive mundus facie.”

Vienna 5327, 15th century, fols. 59r-60v, Operis de geomantia ad
Tirasconensem anstitem prologus et caput primum.

Haskins (1911), p. 13, note 45, notes that the Laurentian MS has a
different Incipit from BN 7453, but CU Magdalene 27 and Vienna 5508
agree with the latter Incipit.

[236] Haskins, p. 14.

[237] In the preface to his translation of el-Biruni’s commentary
on al-Fargani he says, “Lest therefore, completely intent upon the
footprints of the ancients, I seem to dissent from the moderns utterly
...”, (_Ne itaque antiquorum vestigiis penitus insistens a modernis
prorsus videar dissentire_,--Haskins, p. 8). In the preface to the
Pseudo-Aristotle on the 255 books of the Indians he speaks of Bishop
Michael as exalted above moderns or contemporaries (_ultra modernos
vel coequevos_,--Haskins, 10) in fame and love of learning, and later
of “what can be fully explained by none of the moderns” (_quod a
nullo modernorum plenissime valet explicari_--Haskins, p. 11). In the
preface to Albumasar’s _Book of Rains_ occurs the allusion to modern
astrologers of the Gauls given below in the text.

[238] Haskins, p. 10.

[239] _Ibid._, p. 12, “... tue offero dignitati, ut quod potissimum
sibi deesse moderni deflent astrologi gallorum posteritati tua
benignitas largiatur.”

[240] Baldassare Boncompagni, _Della Vita e delle Opere di Gherardo
Cremonese traduttore del secolo duodecimo e di Gherardo da Sabbionetta
Astronomo del secolo decimoterzo, Roma_, 1851.

Giovanni Brambilla, _Monografie di due illustri Cremonesi, Gherardo
Toletano e Gherardo Patulo, Cremona_, 1894. It largely repeats
Boncompagni without acknowledgement.

K. Sudhoff, _Die kurze Vita und das Verzeichnis der Arbeiten Gerhards
von Cremona, von seinen Schülern und Studiengenossen kurz nach dem Tode
des Meisters (1187) zu Toledo verabfasst_, in _Archiv f. Gesch. d.
Medizin, herausg v. d. Puschmann-Stiftung an der Universität Leipzig_,
VIII, 73, Nov., 1914.

V. Rose, in _Hermes_, VIII (1874), 334.

A. A. Björnbo, _Alkindi, Tideus und Pseudo-Euclid_, 1911 (_Abhandl. z.
Gesch. d. Math. Wiss._ XXVI, 3), 127, 137, 150, etc.

Steinschneider (1905), 16-32.

[241] Boncompagni (1851), 3-4, from Vatican 2392, fols. 97v-98r. I
have, except for changing the order, practically translated the Latin
text of the _Vita_, which with some omissions is as follows: “... Ne
igitur magister gerardus cremonensis sub taciturnitatis tenebris lateat
... ne per presumptuosam rapinam libris ab ipso translatis titulus
infigatur alienus presertim cum nulli eorum nomen suum iscripsisset,
cuncta opera ab eodem translata tam de dyalectica quam de geometria,
tam de astrologia quam de phylosophya, tam etiam de physica quam
de aliis scientiis, in fine huius tegni novissime ab eo translati,
imitando Galenum de commemoratione suorum librorum in fine eiusdem
per socios ipsius diligentissime fuerint connumerata.... Is etiam cum
bonis floreret temporalibus.... Carnis desideriis inimicando solis
spiritualibus adhaerebat. Cunctis etiam presentibus atque futuris
prodesse laborabat non immemor illius ptolomei, cum fini appropinquas,
bonum cum augmento operare. Et cum ab istis infantie cunabulis in
gremiis philosophiae educatus esset, et ad cuiuslibet partis ipsius
notitiam secundum latinorum studium pervenisset, amore tamen almagesti
quem apud latinos minime reperiit tolectum perexit. Ubi librorum
cuiuslibet facultatis habundantiam in arabico cernens et latinorum
penurie de ipsis quam noverit miserans ...” etc.

Other less complete lists of Gerard’s works are found in the following
MSS: Laon 413; All Souls 68, fol. 109; Ashmole 357, fol. 57.

[242] Arundel 377, 13th century, fols. 88-103, Philosophia magistri
danielis de merlai ad iohannem Norwicensem episcopum, fol. 103r, “qui
galippo mixtarabe interpretante almagesti latinavit.”

[243] Arundel 377, fol. 89v, “quod a galippo mixtarabe in lingua
tholetana didici latine subscribitur.”

[244] Boncompagni (1851) 18, quoting Laurent. Plut. 89, 13th century.

[245] Such as “Aristotelis de expositione bonitatis pure.”

[246] It was translated from the Greek about the middle of the twelfth
century by Aristippus, minister of William the Bad of Sicily: see
Singer (1917) p. 24; V. Rose, _Die Lücke im Diogenes Laertius und der
alte Uebersetzer_, in _Hermes_ I (1866) 376; Haskins (1920) p. 605; F.
H. Fobes, _Medieval Versions of Aristotle’s Meteorology_, in _Classical
Philology_ X (1915) 297-314; Greek text, ed. Fobes, Cambridge, 1919.

[247] Ed. V. Rose, in _Zeitschrift f. deutsches Alterthum_, XVIII
(1875) 349-82.

[248] The preface was printed by Haskins and Lockwood, _The Sicilian
Translators of the Twelfth Century_, in _Harvard Studies in Classical
Philology_, XXI (1910) pp. 99-102, to which text the following
citations apply. Commented upon by J. L. Heiberg, _Noch einmal die
mittelalterliche Ptolemaios-Uebersetzung_, in _Hermes_, XLVI (1911)

[249] Line 31.

[250] Line 42.

[251] Line 61.

[252] Line 87 _et seq._

[253] Line 23.

[254] Lines 20-21.

[255] BN 14704, fols. 144-70 (present numbering, fols. 110r-35v). The
handwriting seems to me later than the twelfth century, but I am not an
expert in such matters. The text ends at fol. 118v; the rest is tables.

[256] Duhem, III (1915), 201-16.

[257] CU McClean 165, fols. 44-47, Liber cursuum planetarum vii super
Massiliam, “Cum multos indorum seu caldeorum atque arabum ... / ...
Attamen siquis providus fuerit premissa satis emendare poterit.
Expl. liber cursuum planetarum vii.” The Paris MS ends with the same
sentence, but prefixes at the beginning, “Ad honorem et laudem dominis
nostri, patris scilicet et filii,” etc. I have examined the Paris but
not the Cambridge MS. Duhem does not note the latter.

[258] Duhem (1915) 205.

[259] Merton College 324, 15th century, but with such early works
as that of Marbod, fol. 142, Secretissimum regis Cateni Persarum de
virtute aquilae, “Est enim aquila rex omnium avium. ... / ... Explicit
iste tractatus a magistro Willelmo Anglico de lingua Arabica in Latinum
translatus.” One wonders if it is a fragment of Kiranides.

[260] See below, pp. 206, 211.



 Johannes Anglicus: see John of Montpellier.

 Johannes Archangel: Additional 22773, 13th century, fol. 45,
   “Tabule Johannis Archangeli” astronomiae; said to be the
   same as Johannes Campanus.

 Johannes de Beltone, Sloane 314, 15th century, fol. 106,
   Experimentum de re astrologica bonum (imperfect).

 Johannes Blanchinus, BN 7268, Distinctiones in Ptolemaei
   almagestum; BN 7269, 7270, 7271, 7286, Tabulae
   astronomicae; BN 7270, 7271, de primo mobili; Perugia
   1004, 15th century, “Tractatus primus de arithmetricha
   per Johannem de Blanchinis.... Regule conclusionum ad
   practicam algebre in simplicibus.... Tractatus florum
   Almagesti.” Professor Karpinski informs me that the
   _Flores Almagesti_ of Giovanni Bianchini was discussed
   by L. Birkenmajer in _Bull. d. l’Acad. d. Sciences de
   Cracovie_, 1911.

 Johannes Bonia, Valentinus, BN 7416A, translated Fachy,
   _Sex genera instrumentorum sive Canones Quadrantis
   universalis_; see Steinschneider (1905) p. 39.

 John of Brescia, who translated with Profatius Judaeus at
   Montpellier; see Steinschneider (1905) 40.

 John of Campania, BN 6948, 14th century, #1, “Abenzoaris
   Taysir sive rectificatio medicationis et regiminis,”
   translated from Hebrew into Latin.

 Johannes Campanus (of Novara) is of course well known
   for his _Theory of the Planets_ and translation of
   and commentary on Euclid. Perhaps less familiar works
   are: Additional 22772, 15th century, Johannis Campani
   Novarensis liber astronomicus de erroribus Ptolemaei,
   dedicated to Pope Urban IV; Amplon. Quarto 349, late 14th
   century, fols. 57-65, de figura sectorum; indeed, the
   collection of Amplonius at Erfurt is rich in works by
   Campanus. Concerning him see further HL XXI (1847) 248-54
   and Duhem III (1915) 317-21. They hold that Campanus
   is not called John in the MSS. His letter to Urban IV
   (1261-1265) and Simon of Genoa’s dedication of this
   _Clavis sanationis_ in 1292 to “master Campanus, chaplain
   of the pope and canon at Paris,” serve to date him in the
   later 13th century.

 John of Cilicia (apparently the same as John of Sicily),
   Harleian 1, fols. 92-151, Scripta super Canones Arzachelis
   de tabulis Toletanis.

 John Dastine (or Dastyn), among whose treatises on alchemy
   may be mentioned Ashmole 1446, fols. 141-54v, “Incipit
   epistola ... ad Papam Johannem XXII transmissa de
   alchimia”; also found in CU Trinity 1122, 14-15th century,
   fol. 94v-.

 Johannes de Dondis, Laud. Misc. 620, 16th century, “Opus
   Planetarii Johannis de Dondis, fisici, Paduani civis.”

 Iohannes Egidii Zamorensis, Berlin 934, 14th century, 242
   fols., de historia naturali; it includes a reproduction of
   John of Spain’s 39 chapters on the astrolabe.

 John of Florence, Magliabech. XI-22; XVI-66, fols. 260-301,
   “Incipit liber de magni lapidis compositione editus a
   magistro artis generalis florentino.... / ... Explicit
   secretum secretorum mineralis lapidis mag Io.”

 Joannes de Janua (Genoa), BN 7281, 7322, Canon eclypsium;
   7281, Investigatio eclipseos solis 1337; 7282, Canones
   Tabulares. He is classed by Duhem IV (1916) 74-, as a
   disciple of Jean des Linières.

 Joannes de Lineriis, BN 7281, 15th century, #9, Theorica
   planetarum ed. anno 1335, #11, Canones tabularum Alphonsi
   anno 1310; and other astronomical treatises in BN 7282,
   7285, 7295, 7295A, 7329, 7378A, 7405, etc. Gonville and
   Caius 110, 14th century, pp. 1-6, Canones super magnum
   almanach omnium planetarum a mag. Iohanne de Lineriis
   picardi ambianensis dyocesis, compositum super meridianum
   parisiensem. See also Duhem IV (1916) 60-68, “Jean des

 Ioannes Lodoycus Tetrapharmacus, S. Marco XIV-38, 14th
   century, 160 fols., “Antidotarius Galaf Albucassim
   Açarauni a Ioanne Lodoyco Tetrapharmaco gebenensi filio
   Petri fructiferi mathematici ... de arabico in latinum
   translatus” (1198 A. D.).

 John of London, BN 7413, 14th century, fols. 19v-21r, de
   astrologia judicaria ad R. de Guedingue, or it may be
   better described as a letter, written in 1246 or shortly
   thereafter (“usque ad consideracionem meam que fuit anno
   Christi 1246”), in which John discusses various matters,
   including the motion of the eighth sphere and dog days,
   and states that he is sending a transcript of tables of
   the fixed stars which he verified at Paris.

 The John of London who gave so many MSS to the library of
   St. Augustine’s, Canterbury--see James (1903)--would seem
   to have been of later date, since his books included
   works of Aquinas, Roger Bacon, and John Peckham, the
   chronicle of Martin which extends to 1277, translations
   of the astrological treatises of Abraham aben Ezra which
   were not made until toward the close of the 13th century,
   and even treatises by Joannes de Lineriis who wrote in
   the early 14th century and William of St. Cloud who made
   his astronomical observations between 1285 and 1321. It
   therefore seems unlikely that the donor, John of London,
   could be even the young lad who was spoken of in such high
   terms by Roger Bacon, as is suggested by James (1903) pp.
   lxxiv-vii. Possibly the Friar John mentioned below is
   Bacon’s protégé.

 John Manduith, CUL 1572 (Gg. VI. 3), 14th century,
   astronomical treatises and tables. Other MSS, mentioned by
   Tanner (1748) p. 506, contain tables finished by him in
   Oxford in 1310.

 Johannis de Mehun (Jean de Meun), de lapide minerali et de
   lapide vegetabili, Sloane 976, 15th century, fols. 85-108;
   Sloane 1069, 16th century.

 Johannes de Messina, a translator for Alfonso X in 1276;
   perhaps identical with John of Sicily, see Steinschneider
   (1905) p. 51.

 Fratris Joannis ord. Minorum Summa de astrologia, BN 7293A,
   14th century, #3. Possibly this is Roger Bacon’s lad John
   following in his master’s footsteps.

 John of Montpellier or Anglicus (and see John of St.
   Giles), a treatise on the quadrant. BN 7298, 7414, 7416B,
   7437, Joannes de Montepessulano de quadrante; Firenze
   II-iii-22, 16th century, fols. 268-82, “Explicit quadrans
   magistri Iohannis Anglici in monte;” Firenze II-iii-24,
   14th century, fols. 176-82, “Incipit tractatus quadrantis
   veteris secundum magistrum Iohannem de Montepessulano.”
   CUL 1707 (Qi. I. 15), fols. 10-14r, “Quadrans Magistri
   Johannis Anglici in Monte Pessulano.” CUL 1767 (Qi, III.
   3), 1276 A. D., fols. 56-60, Tractatus quadrantis editus a
   magistro Johanne in monte Pessulano.

 John of Meurs (Johannes de Muris), a French writer on music,
   mathematics and astronomy in 1321, 1322, 1323, 1339, and
   1345. Parts of his works have been printed. See further
   L. C. Karpinski, “The ‘Quadripartitum numerorum’ of
   John of Meurs,” in _Bibl. Math._ (1912-1913) 99-114; R.
   Hirschfeld, _Io. de Muris_, 1884; Duhem (1916) IV, 30-37.

 Johannes Ocreatus, see Steinschneider (1905) p. 51.

 Johannes Papiensis, see Steinschneider (1905) p. 51.

 Johannes Parisiensis, master in theology, besides several
   theological treatises wrote _de yride_ and _super librum
   metheorum_. His _Contra corruptum Thome_ shows that he
   wrote after Aquinas. See Denifle (1886) p. 226.

 There was also a medical writer named John of Paris who
   perhaps, rather than Thaddeus of Florence, wrote the
   treatise, De complexionibus corporis humani, Amplon.
   Quarto 35, 1421 A. D., fols. 142-58. The remark of V. Rose
   may also be recalled, “Ioh. Parisiensis ist bekanntlich
   ein Mädchen für alles.”

 John of Poland, Addit. 22668, 13th-14th century, “Liber
   Magistri Johannis Poloni,” medical recipes, etc.

 Johannes de Probavilla, Vienna 2520, 14th century, fols.
   37-50, “Liber de signis prognosticis.”

 John of Procida, see De Renzi, III, 71, Placita
   Philosophorum Moralium Antiquorum ex Graeco in Latinum
   translata a Magistro Joanne de Procida Magno cive

 Johannes de Protsschida, CLM 27006, 15th century, fols.
   216-31, Compendium de occultis naturae.

 Ioannes de Rupecissa, a Franciscan who wrote various works
   on alchemy and who was imprisoned by the pope in 1345 for
   his prophecies concerning the church and antichrist; it
   would take too long to list the MSS here.

 Johannes de Sacrobosco (John Holywood), well known for his
   _Sphere_, which has been repeatedly printed and was the
   subject of commentaries by many medieval authors.

 Joannes de S. Aegidio (John of St. Giles, also Anglicus or
   de Sancto Albano), Bodleian 786, fol. 170, Experimenta

 John of St. Amand, a medical writer, discussed in our 58th

 Johannes de Sancto Paulo, another medical writer whose best
   known work seems to be that on medicinal simples.

 John of Salisbury; see our 41st chapter.

 John of Saxony, or John Danko of Saxony, at Paris in 1331
   wrote a commentary on the astrological Ysagogicus of
   Alchabitius, which John of Spain had earlier translated.
   Amplon. Quarto 354, 14th century, fols. 4-59, Commenta
   Dankonis scilicet magistri Iohannis de Saxonia super
   Alkubicium; Amplon. Folio 387, 14th century, 46 fols.,
   Iohannis Danconis Saxonis almanach secundum tabulas
   Alfonsinas compositum et annis 1336-1380 meridiano
   Parisiensi accomodatum--also in Amplon. Folio 389 and many
   other MSS; BN 7197, 7281, 7286, 7295A, Canones ad motum
   stellarum ordinati. Duhem IV (1916) 77 and 578-81 holds
   that two men have been confounded as John of Saxony,--one
   of the 13th, the other of the 14th century.

 Johannes de Sicca Villa, Royal 12-E-XXV, fols. 37-65, de
   principiis naturae.

 Joannes de Sicilia, BN 7281, 7406, Expositio super canones
   Arzachelis. Steinschneider (1905) p. 51, dates it in
   1290 and regards this John as “hardly to be identified”
   (“schwerlich identisch”) with John of Messina. See also
   Duhem IV (1916) 6-9.

 Joannes de Toledo, perhaps identical with John of Spain, as
   we have said.

 Iohannes de Tornamira, dean or chancellor of Montpellier,
   Amplon. Folio 272, 1391 A. D., fols. 1-214,
   Clarificatorium ... procedens secundum Rasim in nono

 Joannes Vincentius, Presbyter, Prior Eccles. de Monast,
   super Ledum, BN 3446, 15th century, #2, Adversus magicas
   artes et eos qui dicunt artibus eisdem nullam inesse
   efficaciam; Incipit missing.

 John of Wallingford, Cotton Julius D-V I, fols. 1-7r, an
   astronomical fragment.



 Problem of his identity--His works--Their
 influence--Disregard of Christian theology--The divine
 stars--Orders of spirits--The stars rule nature and
 reveal the future--Plot of the _Mathematicus_--Different
 interpretations put upon the _Mathematicus_--Hildebert’s
 Hermaphrodite’s horoscope--The art of geomancy--Prologue
 of the _Experimentarius_--Pictures of Bernard
 Silvester--Problem of a spying-tube and Hermann’s
 relation to the _Experimentarius_--Text of the
 _Experimentarius_--Two versions of the 28 Judges--Other
 modes of divination--Divination of the physician of King
 Amalricus--_Prenostica Socratis Basilei_--Further modes of
 divination--Experimental character of geomancy--Various
 other geomancies--Interest of statesmen and clergy in the
 art--Appendix I. Manuscripts of the _Experimentarius_ of
 Bernard Silvester.

    _“Nell’ ora che non può il calor diurno_
      _Intrepidar più il freddo della luna,_
      _Vinto da terra, o talor da Saturno_
    _Quando i geomanti lor Maggior Fortuna_
      _Veggiono in oriente, innanzi all’ alba,_
    _Surger per via che poco le sta bruno.”_

    _Purg. XIX, 1-6._

[Sidenote: Problem of his identity.]

Bernard Silvester, of whom this chapter will treat, is now generally
recognized as a different person from the Bernard of Chartres whom
William of Conches followed and on whose teaching John of Salisbury
looked back.[261] From John’s account it is plain that Bernard of
Chartres belonged to the generation before William of Conches, and
Clerval has shown reason to believe that he was dead by 1130.[262]
Bernard Silvester, on the other hand, wrote his _De mundi universitate_
during the pontificate of Eugenius III, 1145-1153. Moreover, one of
his pupils informs us that he taught at Tours.[263] This last fact
also makes it difficult, although not impossible, to identify him
with a Breton, named Bernard de Moelan, who, after serving as canon
and chancellor at Chartres, became bishop of Quimper from 1159 to
1167.[264] At least they appear to have had somewhat similar interests,
and Silvester seems to have had some connection with the school of
Chartres, since he dedicated the _De mundi universitate_ to Theodoric
of Chartres.[265]

[Sidenote: His works.]

A number of works are extant under the name of Bernard Silvester. His
interest in rhetoric and poetry is shown by a long _Summa dictaminis_
(or, _dictaminum_) and by a _Liber de metrificatura_, in the
_Titulus_ of which he is called “a poet of the first rank” (_optimi
poetae_).[266] He also wrote a commentary on the first books of the
_Aeneid_.[267] Two other treatises are ascribed to him in which we are
not here further interested, namely: _De forma vitae honestae_ and _De
cura rei familiaris_ or _Epistola ad Raimundum de modo rei familiaris
gubernandae_.[268] The three works of especial interest to us, while
no one of them is exactly a treatise on astrology, all illustrate,
albeit each in a different way, the dominance of astrological doctrine
in the thought of the time. One is _Experimentarius_, an astrological
geomancy translated into verse from the Arabic.[269] Another is a
narrative poem whose plot hinges upon an astrologer’s prediction and
whose very title is _Mathematicus_.[270] The third work, variously
entitled _De mundi universitate_, _Megacosmus et Microcosmus_, and
_Cosmographia_[271] has much to say of the stars and their rule over
inferior creation.[272] It is written partly in prose and partly in
verse,[273] and shows that Bernard laid as much stress on literary form
in his scientific or pseudo-scientific works as in those on rhetoric
and meter. Sandys says of it, “The rhythm of the hexameters is clearly
that of Lucan, while the vocabulary is mainly that of Ovid”; but Dr.
Poole believes that the hexameters are modelled upon Lucretius.[274] He
would date it either in 1145 or about 1147-1148.[275]

[Sidenote: Their influence.]

The manuscripts of these three works are fairly numerous, indicating
that they were widely read, and no contemporary objection appears to
have been raised against their rather extreme astrological doctrines.
As was well observed concerning the _De mundi universitate_ over one
hundred and fifty years ago, “These extravagances and some other
similar ones did not prevent the book from achieving a very brilliant
success from the moment of its first appearance,” as is shown by the
contemporary testimony of Peter Cantor in the closing twelfth century
and Eberhart de Bethune in the early thirteenth century, who says
that the _De mundi universitate_ was read in the schools. Gervaise of
Tilbury and Vincent of Beauvais also cited it.[276] Indeed in our next
chapter we shall find a Christian abbess, saint, and prophetess of
Bernard’s own time charged--by a modern writer, it is true--with making
use of it in her visions. Passages from Silvester are included in a
thirteenth century collection of “Proverbs” from ancient and recent
writers,[277] and more than one copy of the _De mundi universitate_
is listed in such a medieval monastic library as St. Augustine’s,

[Sidenote: Disregard of Christian theology.]

In the _De mundi universitate_ we see the same influence of Platonism
and astronomy, and of the Latin translation of the _Timaeus_ in
especial, as in the _Philosophia_ of William of Conches. At the
same time, its abstract personages and personified sciences,
its _Nous_ and _Natura_, its _Urania_ and _Physis_ with her two
daughters, _Theoretical and Practical_, remind us of the pages of
Martianus Capella and of Adelard of Bath’s _De eodem et diverso_. The
characterization by Dr. Poole that the work “has an entirely pagan
complexion,” and that Bernard’s scheme of cosmology is pantheistic
and takes no account of Christian theology,[279] is essentially true,
although occasionally some utterance indicates that the writer is
acquainted with Christianity and no true pagan. Perhaps it is just
because Bernard makes no pretense of being a theologian, that at a time
when William of Conches was retracting in his _Dragmaticon_ some of the
views expressed in his _Philosophia_ and the Sicilian translator was
conscious of a bigoted theological opposition, Bernard should display
neither fear nor consciousness of the existence of any such opposition.
And yet it does not appear that the Sicilian translator engaged in
theological discussion. Yet he complains of those who call astronomy
idolatry; Bernard calmly calls the stars gods, and no one seems to have
raised the least objection. At least Bernard’s fearless outspokenness
and its subsequent popularity should prevent our laying too much stress
upon the timidity of other writers in expressing new views, and should
make us hesitate before interpreting their attitude as a sure sign
of real danger to freedom of thought and speech, and to scientific

[Sidenote: The divine stars.]

What especially concerns our investigation are the views concerning
stars and spirits expressed by Silvester. Like William of Conches, he
describes the world of spirits in a Platonic or Neo-Platonic, rather
than patristic, style. He differs from William in hardly using the word
“demon” at all and in according the stars, like Adelard of Bath, a much
higher place in his hierarchy. “The heaven itself is full of God,” says
Bernard, “and the sky has its own animals, sidereal fires,”[280] just
as man, who is in part a spiritual being, inhabits the earth. Bernard
does not hesitate to call the stars “gods who serve God in person,”
or “who serve in God’s very presence.”[281] There in the region of
purer ether which extends as far as the sun they enjoy the vision of
bliss eternal, free from all care and distraction, and resting in the
peace of God which passeth all understanding.[282] He also repeats
the Platonic doctrine that the mind is from the sky and that the human
soul, when at last it lays aside the body, “will return to its kindred
stars, added as a god to the number of superior beings.”[283]

[Sidenote: Orders of spirits.]

Between heaven and earth, between God and man, comes the mediate and
composite order of “angelic creation.” “With the divinity of the
stars” the members of this order share the attribute of deathlessness;
with man they have this in common, to be stirred by passion and
impulse.[284] Between sun and moon are benevolent angels who act as
mediums between God and man. Other spirits inhabit the air beneath the
moon. Some of them display an affinity to the near-by ether and fire,
and live in tranquillity and mental serenity, although dwelling in the
air. A second variety are the _genii_ who are associated each with some
man from birth to warn and guide him. But in the lower atmosphere are
disorderly and malignant spirits who often are divinely commissioned
to torment evil-doers, or sometimes torment men of their own volition.
Often they invisibly invade human minds and thoughts by silent
suggestion; again they assume bodies and take on ghostly forms. These
Bernard calls _angelos desertores_, or fallen angels. But there are
still left to be noted the spirits who inhabit the earth, on mountains
or in forests and by streams: _Silvani_, Pans, and _Nerei_. They are
of harmless character (_innocua conversatione_) and, being composed
of the elements in a pure state, are long-lived but in the process of
time will dissolve again.[285] This classification of spirits seems to
follow Martianus Capella.

[Sidenote: The stars rule nature and reveal the future.]

Bernard’s assertion that the stars are gods is accompanied, as one
would naturally expect, by a belief in their control of nature and
revelation of the future. From their proximity to God they receive
from His mind the secrets of the future, which they “establish through
the lower species of the universe by inevitable necessity.”[286]
Life comes to the world of nature from the sky as if from God, and
the creatures of the earth, air, and water could not move from their
tracks, did they not absorb vivifying motions from the sky.[287] _Nous_
or Intelligence says to Nature, “I would have you behold the sky,
inscribed with a multiform variety of images, which, like a book with
open pages, containing the future in cryptic letters, I have revealed
to the eyes of the more learned.”[288] In another passage Bernard
affirms that God writes in the stars of the sky what can come “from
fatal law,” that the movements of the stars control all ages, that
there already is latent in the stars a series of events which long time
will unfold, and that all the events of history, even the birth of
Christ, have been foreshadowed by the stars.

    “Scribit enim caelum stellis totumque figurat
      Quod de fatali lege venire potest,
    Praesignat qualique modo qualique tenore
      Omnia sidereus saecula motus agat.
    Praejacet in stellis series quam longior aetas
      Explicet et spatiis temporis ordo suis:
    Sceptra Phoronei, fratrum discordia Thebae,
      Flammae Phaëthonis, Deucalionis aquae.
    In stellis Codri paupertas, copia Croesi,
      Incestus Paridis, Hippolytique pudor;
    In stellis Priami species, audacia Turni,
      Sensus Ulixeus, Herculeusque vigor.
    In stellis pugil est Pollux, et navita Typhis,
      Et Cicero rhetor, et geometra Thales;
    In stellis lepidus dictat Maro, Milo figurat,
      Fulgurat in latia nobilitate Nero.
    Astra notat Persis, Aegyptus parturit artes,
      Graecia docta legit, praelia Roma gerit.
    Exemplar specimenque Dei virguncula Christum
      Parturit, et verum saecula numen habent.”[289]

Yet Bernard urges man to model his life after the stars,[290] and once
speaks of “what is free in the will and what is of necessity.” He thus
appears, like the author of the treatise on fate ascribed to Plutarch,
like Boethius, and like a host of other theologians, philosophers, and
astrologers, to believe in the co-existence of free will, inevitable
fate, and “variable fortune.”[291]

[Sidenote: Plot of the _Mathematicus_.]

Bernard Silvester’s interest and faith in the art of astrology is
further exemplified by his poem _Mathematicus_, a narrative which
throughout assumes the truth of astrological prediction concerning
human fortune. Hauréau showed that it had been incorrectly included
among the works of Hildebert of Tours and Le Mans, and that the theme
is suggested in the fourth Pseudo-Quintillian declamation, but that
Bernard has added largely to the plot there briefly outlined. A Roman
knight and lady were in every respect well endowed both by nature and
fortune except that their marriage had up to the moment when the story
opens been a childless one. At last the wife consulted an astrologer
or _mathematicus_, “who could learn from the stars,” we are told, “the
intentions of the gods, the mind of the fates, and the plan of Jove,
and discover the hidden causes and secrets of nature.” He informed her
that she would bear a son who would become a great genius and the ruler
of Rome, but who would one day kill his father. When the wife told
her husband of this prediction, he made her promise to kill the child
in infancy. But when the time came, her mother love prevailed and she
secretly sent the boy away to be reared, while she assured her husband
that he was dead. She named her son _Patricida_ in order that he might
abhor the crime of patricide the more. The boy early gave signs of
great intellectual capacity. Among other studies he learned “the
orbits of the stars and how human fate is under the stars,” and he
“clasped divine Aristotle to his breast.” Later on, when Rome was hard
pressed by the Carthaginians and her king was in captivity, he rallied
her defeated forces and ended the war in triumph.

    “And because the fatal order demands it so shall be,
    The fates gave him this path to dominion....
    Blind chance sways the silly toiling of men;
    Our world is the plaything and sport of the gods.”

The king thereupon abdicated in favor of _Patricida_, whom he addressed
in these words, “O youth, on whose birth, if there is any power in the
stars, a favorable horoscope looked down.”

The mother rejoiced to hear of her son’s success, and marveled at
the correctness of the astrologer’s prediction, but was now the more
troubled as to her husband’s fate. He noticed her distraction and at
last induced her to tell him its cause. But then, instead of being
angry at the deception which she had practiced upon him, and instead of
being alarmed at the prospect of his own death, he, too, rejoiced in
his son’s success, and said that he would die happy, if he could but
see and embrace him. He accordingly made himself known to his son and
told him how he had once ordered his death but had been thwarted by the
eternal predestined order of events, and how some day his son would
slay him, not of evil intent but compelled by the courses of the stars.
“And manifest is the fault of the gods in that you cannot be kinder to
your father.”

The son thereupon determines that he will evade the decree of the stars
by committing suicide. He is represented as soliloquizing as follows:

    “How is our mind akin to the ethereal stars,
    If it suffers the sad necessity of harsh Lachesis?
    In vain we possess a particle of the divine mind,
    If our reason cannot make provision for itself.
    God so made the elements, so made the fiery stars,
    That man is not subject to the stars.”

Patricida accordingly summons all the Romans together, and, after
inducing them by an eloquent rehearsal of his great services in their
behalf to grant him any boon that he may ask, says that his wish is to
die; and at this point the poem ends, leaving us uninformed whether
the last part of the astrologer’s prediction remained unfulfilled,
or whether Patricida’s suicide caused his father’s death, or whether
possibly some solution was found in a play upon the word _Patricida_.
Hauréau, however, believed that the poem is complete as it stands.

[Sidenote: Different interpretations put upon the _Mathematicus_.]

The purpose of the poet and his attitude towards astrology have been
interpreted in diametrically opposite ways by different scholars.
Before Hauréau it was customary to attribute the poem to Hildebert,
archbishop of Tours, and to regard it as an attack upon astrology.
The early editors of the _Histoire Littéraire de la France_ supported
their assertion that the most judicious men of letters in the eleventh
and twelfth centuries had only a sovereign scorn for the widely
current astrological superstition of their time by citing Hildebert
as ridiculing the art in his _Mathematicus_.[292] A century later
Charles Jourdain again represented Hildebert as turning to ridicule
the vain speculations of the astrologers.[293] Bourassé, the editor
of Hildebert’s works as they appear in Migne’s _Patrologia Latina_,
seems to have felt that the poem was scarcely an outspoken attack upon
astrology and tried to explain it as an academic exercise which was not
to be taken seriously, but regarded as satire upon judicial astrology.
Hauréau not only denied Archbishop Hildebert’s authorship, but took
the common sense view that the poet believes fully in astrology. It
would, indeed, be difficult to detect any suggestion of ridicule or
satire about the poem. Its plot is a tragic one and it seems written in
all seriousness. Even Patricida, despite his assertion that “man is
not subject to the stars,” does not doubt that he will kill his father
conformably to the learned astrologer’s prediction, if he himself
continues to live. It is only by the _tour de force_ of self-slaughter
that he hopes to cheat fate.

[Sidenote: Hildebert’s Hermaphrodite’s horoscope.]

Even Archbishop Hildebert shows a tendency towards astrology in other
poems attributed to him; for example, in his _Nativity of Christ_
and in a short poem, _The Hermaphrodite_, which reads as follows,
representing the fulfillment of a horoscope:

 “While my pregnant mother bore me in the womb, ’tis said
 the gods deliberated what she should bring forth. Phoebus
 said, ‘It is a boy’; Mars, ‘A girl’; Juno, ‘Neither.’ So
 when I was born, I was a hermaphrodite. When I seek to die,
 the goddess says, ‘He shall be slain by a weapon’; Mars,
 ‘By crucifixion’; Phoebus, ‘By drowning.’ So it turned out.
 A tree shades the water; I climb it; the sword I carry by
 chance slips from its scabbard; I myself fall upon it; my
 trunk is impaled in the branches; my head falls into the
 river. Thus I, man, woman, and neither, suffered flood,
 sword, and cross.”[294]

This poem has always been greatly admired by students of Latin
literature for its epigrammatic neatness and conciseness, and has been
thought too good to be the work of a medieval writer, and has been
even attributed to Petronius. Another version, by the medieval poet,
Peter Riga, entitled _De ortu et morte pueri monstruosi_, is longer and
far less elegant. Hauréau, however, regarded _the Hermaphrodite_ as
a medieval composition, since there are no manuscripts of it earlier
than the twelfth century; but he was in doubt whether to ascribe it
to Hildebert or to Matthew of Vendôme, who in listing his own poems
mentions _hic et haec hermaphroditus homo_.[295]

[Sidenote: The art of geomancy.]

We turn to the association of the name of Bernard Silvester with the
superstitious art of geomancy. It may be briefly defined as a method
of divination in which, by marking down a number of points at random
and then connecting or cancelling them by lines, a number or figure is
obtained which is used as a key to sets of tables or to astrological
constellations. The only reason for calling this geomancy, that is,
divination by means of the element earth, would seem to be that at
first the marks were made and figures drawn in the sand or dust, like
those of Archimedes during the siege of Syracuse. But by the middle
ages, at least, any kind of writing material would do as well. Although
a somewhat more abstruse form of superstition than the ouija board,
it seems to have been nearly as popular in the medieval period as the
ouija board is now.

[Sidenote: Prologue of the _Experimentarius_.]

The name of Bernard Silvester is persistently associated in the
manuscripts with a work bearing the title _Experimentarius_, which
seems to consist of sets of geomantic tables translated from the
Arabic. Its prologue is unmistakable, but it is less easy to make
out what text should go with it and how the text should be arranged.
Sometimes the prologue is found alone in the manuscripts,[296] and the
text which accompanies it in others varies in amount and sometimes
is more or less mixed up with other similar modes of divination. The
prologue is sometimes headed, _Evidencia operis subsequentis_, and
regularly subdivides into three brief sections. The first, opening
with the words, _Materia huius libelli_, describes the subject-matter
of the text as “the effect and efficacy of the moon and other planets
and of the constellations, which they exert upon inferior things.” The
writer’s opinion is that God permits mortals who make sane and sober
inquiry to learn by subtle consideration of the constellations many
things concerning the future and persons who are absent, and that
astrology also gives information concerning human character, health
and sickness, prosperity, fertility of the soil, the state of sea and
air, business matters and journeys. In a second paragraph, opening,
_Utilitas autem huius libelli_, the writer states that the use of his
book is that one may avoid the perils of which the stars give warning
by penitence and prayers and vows to God who, as the astrologer
Albumasar admits, controls the stars. And through them the Creator
reveals his will, as in the case of the three Magi who learned from a
star that a great prophet had been born. Finally, in a paragraph of a
single sentence, which opens with the words, _Titulus vero talis est_,
we are informed that the title is the _Experimentarius_ of Bernard
Silvester, “not because he was the original author but the faithful
translator from Arabic into Latin.”

[Sidenote: Pictures of Bernard Silvester.]

In one manuscript which contains the _Experimentarius_ there is twice
depicted, although the second time in different colors, a seated
human figure evidently intended to represent Bernard Silvester. He
is bearded and sits in a chair writing, with a pen in one hand and a
knife or scalpel in the other. Neither miniature is in juxtaposition
to the prologue in which Bernard is named, but in both cases the
figure is accompanied by five lines of text, written alternately in
red and blue colors and proclaiming that Bernard Silvester is the
translator and that the number seven is the basis in this infallible
book of lot-casting.[297] It would not be safe, however, to accept
this miniature as an accurate representation of Bernard, since the
manuscript is not contemporary and it contains similar portraits of
Socrates and Plato, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Cicero.

[Sidenote: Problem of a spying-tube and Hermann’s relation to the

Both in the manuscript which we have just been describing and
another of older date[298] is a picture of two persons seated. In
both manuscripts one is called Euclid, in the older manuscript only
is the other named, and designated as Hermann. According to Black’s
description Euclid “uplifts a sphere with his right hand, and with his
left holds a telescope through which he is observing the stars; towards
whom ‘Hermannus,’ on the other side, holds forth a circular instrument
hanging from his fingers, which is superscribed ‘Astrolabium.’” The
picture in the other manuscript is similar, but in view of the fact
that they were written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
the rod along which, or tube through which ‘Euclid’ is squinting, can
scarcely be regarded as a telescope without more definite proof of the
invention of that instrument before the time of Galileo. Perhaps it is
a _dioptra_[299] or spying-tube of the sort described by the ancients,
Polybius and Hero, and used in surveying. But I mention the picture
for the further reason that Clerval[300] asserted a connection between
Hermann of Dalmatia, the twelfth century translator, and Bernard
Silvester, affirming that Hermann sent Bernard his work on the uses of
the astrolabe and that he really translated the _Experimentarius_ from
the Arabic and sent it to Bernard who merely versified it. But we have
already proved that it was Hermann the Lame of the eleventh century
who wrote on the astrolabe and that he did so a century before Bernard
Silvester. The aforesaid picture is clearly of him and not of Hermann
the Dalmatian. And whether the “B” at whose request Hermann wrote on
the astrolabe be meant for Berengarius or Bernard, it certainly cannot
be meant for Bernard Silvester, who was not born yet.

[Sidenote: Text of the _Experimentarius_.]

Apparently the text proper of the _Experimentarius_ opens with the
usual instructions of geomancies for the chance casting of points and
drawing of lines. The number of points left over as a result of this
procedure is used as a guide in finding the answer to the question
which one has in mind. In a preliminary table are listed 28 subjects of
inquiry such as life and death, marriage, imprisonment, enemies, gain.
One turns to the topic in which one is interested and, according as the
number of points obtained by chance is over or under seven, reckons
forward or backward that many times from the number opposite his theme
of inquiry, or, if exactly seven points were left over, takes the
number of the theme of inquiry as he finds it. In one manuscript the
new number thus obtained is that of the “Judge of the Fates” to whom
one should next turn. There are 28 such judges, whose names are the
Arabic designations for the 28 divisions of the circle of the zodiac
or mansions of the moon, which spends a day in each of them.[301] A
page is devoted to each judge, under whose name are twenty-eight lines
containing as many responses to the twenty-eight subjects of inquiry.
The inquirer selects a line corresponding to his number of points and
the tables are so arranged that he thus always receives the answer
which fits his inquiry. But most of the manuscripts, instead of at
once referring the inquirer to his Judge as we have described, insert
other preliminary tables in which he is first referred to a planet and
then to a day of the moon. This unnecessarily indirect and complicated
system is probably intended to mystify the reader and to emphasize
further the supposedly astrological basis of the procedure, whereas it
is in reality purely a matter of lot-casting.

[Sidenote: Two versions of the 28 judges.]

Now in most of the manuscripts which I have examined there are two
versions of these twenty-eight pages of Judges of the Fates, worded
differently, although the corresponding lines always seem to answer the
same questions and apply to the same topics of inquiry as before. In
the version which comes first, for example, the first line under the
first Judge, _Almazene_ or the belly of Aries, is

    _Tuum indumentum durabit tempore longo_

while in the second version the same line reads,

    _Hoc ornamentum decus est et fama ferentum._[302]

Both versions seem to be regarded as the _Experimentarius_ of Bernard
Silvester, for in the manuscripts where they occur together the
first usually follows its prologue, while the second is preceded by
his picture and the line, _Translator Bernardus Silvester_.[303]
In one manuscript[304] the prologue is immediately followed by the
second version and the first set of Judges does not occur. In some
manuscripts,[305] however, the second version occurs without the
first and without the prologue, in which cases, I think, there is
nothing to indicate that it is by Bernard Silvester or a part of the
_Experimentarius_. The first version ends in several manuscripts with
the words, _Explicit libellus de constellationibus_[306] rather than
some such phrase as _Explicit Experimentarius_. Furthermore in some
manuscripts where it occurs alone this first set of Judges is called
the book of Alchandiandus or Alkardianus.[307] He may, however, have
been the Arabic author and Bernard his translator, and the _liber
alkardiani phylosophi_ opens in at least one manuscript with words
appropriate to the title, _Experimentarius_, “Since everything that is
tested by experience is experienced either for its own sake or on some
other account.”[308]

[Sidenote: Other modes of divination.]

There are so many treatises of this type in medieval manuscripts and
they are so frequently collected in one _codex_ that they are liable
to be confused with one another. Thus in two manuscripts a method of
divination ascribed to the physician of King Amalricus[309] is in such
juxtaposition to the _Experimentarius_ that Macray takes it to be part
of the _Experimentarius_, while the catalogue of the Sloane Manuscripts
combines the two as “a compilation ‘concerning the art of Ptolemy.’”
Macray also includes in the _Experimentarius_ a _Praenostica Socratis
Basilei_, which is of frequent occurrence in the manuscripts, and
other treatises on divination which are either anonymous or ascribed
to Pythagoras and, judging from the miniatures prefixed to them, to
Anaxagoras and Cicero, who thus again is appropriately punished for
having written a work against divination. I doubt if these other modes
of divination are parts of the _Experimentarius_, which often is found
without them, as are some of them without it. But they are so much
like it in general form and procedure that we may consider them now,
especially as they are of such dubious date and authorship that it
would be difficult to place them more exactly.

[Sidenote: Divination of the physician of King Amalricus.]

The treatise which is assigned to the physician of King Amalricus and
which is said to have been composed in memory of that monarch’s great
victory over the Saracens and Turks in Egypt, obtains its key number
by revolution of a wheel[310] rather than by the geomantic casting
of points, and introduces a trifle more of astrological observance.
If on first applying the inquirer receives an unfavorable reply, he
may wait for thirty days and try again, but after the third failure
he must desist entirely. “It is not allowed to inquire concerning one
thing more than three times.” The twenty-eight subjects of inquiry are
divided in groups of four among the seven planets, and the inquirer is
told to return on the weekday named after the planet under which his
query falls. On the day set the astrologer must further determine with
the astrolabe when the hour of the same planet has arrived, and not
until then may the divination by means of the wheel take place, as a
result of which the inquirer is directed as before to one of 28 Judges
who in this case, however, are said to be associated with mansions
of the sun[311] rather than moon. At the close of the treatise of
the physician of King Amalricus in both manuscripts[312] that I have
examined is inserted some sceptical person’s opinion to the effect that
these methods of divination are subtle trifles which are not utterly
useless as a means of diversion, but that faith should not be placed in
them. The more apparent the devil’s nets are, concludes the passage,
the more wary the human bird will be.

[Sidenote: _Prenostica Socratis Basilei._]

In the _Prenostica_ or _Prenosticon Socratis Basilei_--Prognostic of
Socrates the King--a number from one to nine is obtained by chance
either by geomancy or by revolving a wheel on which an image of “King
Socrates” points his finger. The inquirer then consults a table
where sixteen questions are so arranged in compartments designated
by letters of the alphabet that each question is found in two
compartments. Say that the inquirer finds his question in A and E. He
then consults another table where 144 names of birds, beasts, fish,
stones, herbs, flowers, cities, and other “species” are arranged in
nine rows opposite the numbers from one to nine and in sixteen columns
headed by the sixteen possible pairs of letters such as the AE of our
inquirer. Looking in the row corresponding to his number and the column
AE he obtains a name. He must then find this name in a series of twelve
circular tables where the aforesaid names are listed under their proper
species, each table containing twelve names. He now is referred on to
one of sixteen kings of the Turks, India, Spain, Francia, Babylonia,
the Saracens, Romania, etc. Under each king nine answers are listed and
here at last under his original number obtained by lot he finds the
appropriate answer.[313]

[Sidenote: Further modes of divination.]

In the _Prenostica Pitagorice_ we are assured that we may rest easy as
to the integrity of the Catholic Faith being observed, “for that does
not happen of necessity which human caution forewarned, can avoid.” It
answers any one of a list of thirty-six questions by means of a number
obtained by chance between one and twelve. The inquirer is referred
to one of 36 birds whose pictures are drawn in the margins with twelve
lines of answers opposite each bird. Other schemes of divination
found with the _Experimentarius_ in some manuscripts differ from the
foregoing only in the number of questions concerning which inquiry can
be made, the number of Judges and the names given them, the number of
lines under each Judge, and the number of intermediate directory tables
that have to be consulted before the final Judge is reached. As Judges
we meet the twelve sons of Jacob, the thirty-six decans or thirds of
the twelve signs, and another astrological group of twenty made up of
the twelve signs, seven planets, and the dragon.[314]

[Sidenote: Experimental character of geomancy.]

In one manuscript[315] the directions for consulting this last group
of Judges are given under the heading, _Documentum experimenti
retrogradi_, which like Bernard’s _Experimentarius_ suggests the
experimental character of the art of geomancy or the arts of divination
in general. Later we shall hear Albertus Magnus in the _Speculum
astronomiae_ call treatises of aerimancy,[316] pyromancy, and
hydromancy, as well as of geomancy “experimental books.”

[Sidenote: Various other geomancies.]

Geomancies are of frequent occurrence in libraries of medieval
manuscripts.[317] Many are anonymous[318] but others bear the names of
noted men of learning. The art must have had great currency among the
Arabs,[319] for not only are treatises current in Latin under such
names as Abdallah,[320] Albedatus,[321] Alcherius,[322] Alkindi,[323]
and Alpharinus,[324] but almost every prominent translator of the time
seems to have tried his hand at a geomancy. In the manuscripts we find
geomancies attributed to Gerard of Cremona,[325] Plato of Tivoli,[326]
Michael Scot,[327] Hugo Sanctelliensis,[328] William of Moerbeke,[329]
William de Saliceto of Piacenza,[330] and Peter of Abano,[331] and
even to their medical confrère and contemporary, Bernard Gordon, who
is not usually classed as a translator.[332] Some of these, however,
were translators from the Greek or the Hebrew rather than Arabic, and
some of the geomantic treatises in the manuscripts claim an origin from
India.[333] But a Robert or Roger Scriptoris who compiled a geomancy
towards the close of the medieval period thinks first among his sources
of “the Arabs of antiquity and the wise moderns, William of Moerbeke,
Bartholomew of Parma, Gerard of Cremona, and many others.”[334] These
other geomancies are not necessarily like the _Experimentarius_ of
Bernard Silvester[335] and we shall describe another sort when we come
to speak of Bartholomew of Parma in a later chapter.

[Sidenote: Interest of statesmen and clergy in the art.]

In the fifteenth century such intellectual statesmen as Humphrey,
Duke of Gloucester, and Henry VII of England displayed an interest
in geomancy, judging from a manuscript _de luxe_ of Guido Bonatti’s
work on astrology which was made for Henry VII and contains a picture
of him, and also Plato’s translation of the geomancy of Alpharinus
and geomantic “tables of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester.”[336] The
interest of the clergy in this superstitious art is attested not only
by the translation of such a person as William of Moerbeke, who was
papal penitentiary and later archbishop of Corinth, but by a geomancy
which we find in two fifteenth century manuscripts written by Martin,
an abbot of Burgos, at the request of another abbot of Paris.[337]
Treatises on geomancy continue to be found in the manuscripts as late
as the eighteenth century, that of Gerard of Cremona especially.


[261] Clerval, _Les Écoles de Chartres_, Paris, 1895, pp. 158-63. The
point was for a time contested by Ch. V. Langlois, “Maître Bernard,”
in _Bibl. de l’École des Chartes_, LIV (1893) and by Hauréau. The two
Bernards are still identified in EB, 11th edition, while Steinschneider
(1905), p. 8, still identified Bernard of Chartres with the author of
_De mundi universitate_.

[262] Dr. R. L. Poole, EHR (1920), p. 327, does not regard this as
absolutely certain but agrees at p. 331 “that the evidence of place
and time make it impossible to identify Bernard Silvester with Bernard
of Chartres,” as he had done earlier in _Illustrations of Medieval
Thought_ (1884), pp. 113-26.

[263] B. Hauréau, _Le Mathematicus de Bernard Silvestris_, Paris, 1895,
p. 11.

[264] Clerval (1895), pp. 158, 173.

[265] BN 6415, fol. 74v, “Terrico veris scientiarum titulis doctori
famosissimo bernardus silvestris opus suum.”

[266] Clerval (1895), pp. 173-4.

[267] BN 16246, 15th century. Extracts from it are printed by Cousin,
_Fragments philosophiques_, II, 348-52. John of Salisbury in 1159 used
it in the _Polycraticus_, ed. Webb (1909) I, xxx, xlii-xliii.

[268] Many MSS at Paris, BN 3195, 5698, 6395, 6477, 6480, 7054, 8299,
8513, and probably others. MSS catalogues often ascribe it to St.

[269] Attention was first called to it by Langlois, _Maître Bernard_,
1893. It has not been printed. A description of some of the MSS of it
will be found in Appendix I at the close of this chapter.

[270] B. Hauréau, _Le Mathematicus de Bernard Silvestris_, Paris, 1895,
contains the text and lists the following MSS: BN 3718, 5129, 6415;
Tours 300; Cambrai 875; Bodleian A-44; Vatican 344, 370, 1440 _de la
Reine_; Berlin Cod. Theol. Octavo 94. Printed in Migne PL 171, 1365-80,
among the poems of Hildebert of Tours.

[271] Ed. by Wrobel and Barach, in _Bibl. Philos. mediae aetatis_,
Innsbruck, 1876, from two MSS, Vienna 526 and CLM 23434. HL XII (1763),
p. 261 _et seq._, had already listed six MSS in the then Royal Library
at Paris (now there are at least eight, BN 3245, 6415, 6752A, 7994,
8320, 8751C, 8808A, and 15009, 12-13th century, fol. 187), four at the
Vatican, and many others elsewhere. The following may be added:

Cotton Titus D-XX, fols. 110v-115r, Bernardi Sylvestris de utroque
mundo, majore et minore.

Cotton Cleopatra A-XIV, fols. 1-26, Bernardi Sylvestris cosmographia
proso-metrice in qua de multis rebus physicis agitur.

Additional 35112, Liber de mundi philosophia, author not named.

Sloane 2477 and Royal 15-A-XXXII.

CU Trinity 1335, early 13th century, fols. 1-25v, Bernardi Silvestris

CU Trinity 1368 (II), late 12th century, 50 leaves, Bernardi Silvestris
Megacosmus et Microcosmus.

[272] Clerval’s (1895) pp. 259-61, “Le système de Bernard Silvester,”
is limited to the _De mundi universitate_ and says nothing of his
obvious astrological doctrine, although at p. 240 Clerval briefly
states that in that work Bernard takes over many figures from pagan

[273] HL XII (1763) p. 261 _et seq._, besides the _De mundi
universitate_ mentioned “two poems in elegiacs written expressly in
defense of the influence of the constellations.” These were very
probably the _Mathematicus_ and _Experimentarius_, or the two parts or
versions of the latter.

[274] _History of Classical Scholarship_ (1903) I, 515; _Illustrations
of Medieval Thought_ (1884) p. 118.

[275] EHR (1920) p. 331.

[276] HL XII (1763) p. 261 _et seq._

[277] Berlin 193 (Phillips 1827), fol. 25v, “Proverbia.”

[278] Indeed, the 15th century catalogue of that abbey lists one MS,
1482, which contains both the _Megacosmus_ and _Mathematicus_, with the
treatise of Valerius to Rufinus on not getting married sandwiched in

[279] Poole (1884) pp. 117-18.

[280] _De mundi universitate_, II, 6, 10, “Caelum ipsum Deo plenum
est.... Sua caelo animalia ignes siderei....”

[281] _Ibid._, I, 3, 6-7,

“Motus circuitus numina turba deum Dico deos quorum ante Deum
praesentia servit.”

Also II, 4, 39, “deos caelumque.”

[282] _Ibid._, II, 6, 49, “Qui quia aeternae beatitudinis visione
perfruuntur, ab omni distrahentis curae sollicitudine feriati in pace
Dei quae omnem sensum superat conquiescunt.”

[283] _De mundi universitate_, II, 4, 49-50.

“Corpore iam posito cognata reibit ad astra Additus in numero

[284] _Ibid._, II, 6, 36-, “Participatenim angelicae creationis numerus
cum siderum divinitate quod non moritur; cum homine, quod passionum
affectibus incitatur.”

[285] _Ibid._, II, 6, 92 _et seq._

[286] _De mundi universitate_, II, 6, 47-.

[287] _Ibid._, I, 4, 5-.

[288] _Ibid._, II, 1, 23-.

[289] _Ibid._, I, 3, 33 _et seq._

[290] _De mundi universitate_, II, 4, 31-50; and II, 1, 30-32.

[291] _Ibid._, II, 1, 33-35.

“Parcarum leges et ineluctabile fatum Fortunaeque vices variabilis Quae
sit in arbitrio res libera quidve necesse.”

[292] HL VII (1746) p. 137.

[293] C. Jourdain, _Dissertation sur l’état de la philosophie naturelle
etc._, Paris, 1838, p. 116, note.

[294] Migne, PL 171, 1446. Juno here stands for the planet Venus:
see Hyginus II, 42, “Stella Veneris, Lucifer nomine, quam nonnulli
Junonis esse dixerunt”; and other passages cited by Bouché-Leclercq,
_L’Astrologie grecque_, 1899, p. 99, note 2.

[295] J. B. Hauréau, _Les mélanges poétiques d’Hildebert_, 1882, pp.
138-47. In Digby 53, a poetical miscellany of the end of the 12th
century, no author is named for the “De Ermaphrodito” nor for some
other items which appear in the printed edition of Hildebert’s poems,
although Hildebert’s name is attached to a few pieces in the MS.

[296] Ashmole 345, late 14th century, fol. 64. Bodleian Auct. F. 3. 13,
fol. 104v. For a summary of the MSS see Appendix I at the close of this

[297] Digby 46, 14th century, fol. 1v, the first line is blue, the next
red, etc.

_An sors instabilis melius ferat ars docet eius_ _In septem stabis
minus una petens numerabis_ _Post septem sursum numerando perfice
cursum_ _Translator Bernardus Silvester_ _Hic infallibilis liber
incipit autem peius._

At fol. 25v, the same five lines except that the last line is put
first, where it would seem to belong, and is accordingly colored red
instead of blue as before, the colors of the other four lines remaining
the same as before.

[298] Ashmole 304, 13th century, fol. 2v.

[299] In this connection the following MS might prove of interest: CU
Trinity 1352, 17th century, neatly written, _Dioptrica Practica_. Fol.
1 is missing and with it the full title. Cap 1, _de Telescopiorum ac
Microscopium Inventione, diversitate, et varietati. Quaestio I, Quid
sunt Telescopia et quomodo ac quando inventa_. After fol. 90 is a
single leaf of diagrams.

[300] Clerval (1895), pp. 169, 190-91.

[301] These 28 Judges, or mansions of the moon, are seldom spelled
twice alike in the MSS, but are somewhat as follows: _Almazene_,
_Anatha_, _Albathon_, _Arthura_, _Adoran_, _Almusan_, _Atha_, _Arian_,
_Anathia_, _Althare_, _Albuza_, _Alcoreten_, _Arpha_, _Alana_,
_Asionet_, _Algaphar_, _Azavenu_, _Alakyal_, _Alcalu_, _Aleum_,
_Avaadh_, _Avelde_, _Cathateue_, _Eadabula_, _Eadatauht_, _Eadalana_,
_Algafalmar_, _Algagafalui_.

[302] In the MSS, which are very carelessly and often slovenly written,
the wording of these lines varies a good deal, for instance, in Digby
46, fol. 11r, “Sum (_sic_) monumentum durabit tempore longo,” and in CU
Trinity 1404 (II), fol. 2r, “Hoc ornamentum est et fama parentum.”

[303] Digby 46, fol. 25v; in Ashmole 304 the corresponding leaf has
been cut out, probably for the sake of the miniature; Sloane 3857,
fol. 181v, omits the picture but has the phrase, “Translator Bernardus

[304] Sloane 3554, fol. 13v-.

[305] Ashmole 342, early 14th century, #2.

Ashmole 399, late 13th century, fols. 54-8.

Royal 12-C-XII, fols. 108-23.

CU Trinity 1404 (II), 14-15th century, fols. 2-16.

Some of these MSS I have not seen.

[306] Digby 46, fol. 24v; Ashmole 304, fol. 16v; Sloane 3857, fol. 180v.

[307] Additional 15236, English hand of 13-14th century, fols. 130-52r,
“libellus Alchandiandi”; BN 7486, 14th century, fol. 30v, “Incipit
liber alkardiani phylosophi. Cum omne quod experitur sit experiendum
propter se vel propter aliud....” And see above, the latter pages of
Chapter 30.

[308] See the preceding note.

[309] Sloane 3554, fol. 1-; Digby 46, fols. 3r-5v, and fol. 90r. But
in both MSS it precedes the prologue of the _Experimentarius_. Macray
was probably induced to regard everything in Digby 46 up to fol. 92r
as _Experimentarius_ by the picture of Bernard Silvester which occurs
at fol. 1v with the accompanying five lines stating that he is the
translator of “this infallible book.” But the picture is probably
misplaced, since it occurs again at fol. 25v before the second version
of the 28 Judges.

[310] Inset inside the thick cover of Digby 46 are two interlocking
wooden cogwheels for this purpose, with 28 and 13 teeth respectively.

[311] In Digby 46 diagrams showing the number of stars in each are

[312] Digby 46, fol. 5v; Sloane 3554, fol. 12r.

[313] I have described the _Prenostica_ as it is found in Digby 46,
fol. 40r-, with a picture at fol. 41v of Socrates seated and Plato
standing behind him and pointing. Ashmole 304 has the same text and
picture; and the text is practically the same in Sloane 3857, fols.
196-207, “_Documentum subsequentis considerationis quae Socratica
dicitur_.” In Additional 15236, 13-14th century, fols. 95r-108r,
the inquirer is first directed to implore divine aid and repeat a
Paternoster and Ave Maria, and some details are slightly different, but
the general method is identical. The final answers are given in French.
In BN 7420A, 14th century, fol. 126r- (or clxxxxvi, or col. 451),
“_Liber magni solacii socratis philosophi_” is also essentially the
same; indeed, its opening words are, “_Pronosticis Socratis basilii_.”
Preceding it are similar methods of divination, beginning at fol. 121v
(or clxxxxii or col. 440), “_Si vis operare de geomancia debes facere
quatuor lineas...._” Evidently the following is also our treatise: CU
Trinity 1404 (IV), 14-15th century, _Iste liber dicitur Rota fortune
in qua sunt 16 questiones determinate in pronosticis sententiat’_.
(sic) _basilici que sub sequentibus inscribuntur et sunt 12 spere et
16 Reges pro iudicibus constituti et habent determinare veritatem de
questionibus antedictis cum auxilio sortium_. James (III, 423) adds,
“The questions, tables, spheres, and Kings follow....” Our treatise is
also listed in John Whytefeld’s 1389 catalogue of MSS in Dover Priory,
No. 409, fol. 192v, _Pronostica socratis phi_.

[314] These tracts of divination are found in Digby 46, fols. 52r-92r,
and partially in Ashmole 304, Sloane 3857, and Sloane 2472.

[315] Sloane 2472, fol. 22r.

[316] The word seems to be regularly so spelled in the middle ages,
although modern dictionaries give only aeromancy.

[317] For instance, at Munich the following MSS are devoted to works of
geomancy: CLM 192, 196, 240, 242, 276, 392, 398, 421, 436, 456, 458,
483, 489, 541, 547, 588, 671, 677, 905, 11998, 24940, 26061, 26062.

[318] For instance, Amplon. Quarto 174, 14th century, fol. 120,
_Geomancia parva_; Qu. 345, 14th century, fols. 47-50, _geomancia cum
theorica sua_; Qu. 361, 14th century, fols. 62-79, five treatises; Qu.
365, fol. 83; Qu. 368, 14th century, fol. 30; Qu. 374, 14th century,
fols. 1-60; Qu. 377, 14th century, fols. 70-76; Amplon. Octavo 88, 14th
century, fols. 5-10; Amplon. Duodecimo 17, 14th century, fols. 27-35.
Harleian 671; 4166, 15th century; Royal 12-C-XVI, 15th century; Sloane
887, 16th century, fols. 3-59; 1437, 16th century; 2186, 17th century;
3281, 13-14th century, fols. 25-34, “_Liber 28 iudicum_” or “_Liber
parcarum sive fatorum_.”

[319] Additional 9600 is a geomancy in Arabic, and Addit. 8790, _La
Geomantia del S. Christoforo Cattaneo, Genonese, l’inventore di detta
Almadel Arabico_.

[320] Vatic. Urbin. Lat. 262, 14-15th century, _Abdallah geomantiae
fragmenta_. Amplon. Folio 389, 14th century, fols. 56-99, _Geomantia
Abdalla astrologi cum figuris_; perhaps the same as Math. 47,
_Geomancia cum egregiis tabulis Abdana astrologi_, in the 1412

Amplon. Quarto 380, early 14th century, fols. 1-47, _geomancia optima
Abdallah filii Ali_.

Magliabech. XX-13, 15th century, fols. 208-10, “_Il libro di Zaccheria
ebrio il quale compuose le tavole de giudici. Disse il famiglio di

[321] Amplon. Octavo 88, early 14th century, fols. 1-5, _geomancia
Albedato attributa_, fols. 107-10, _Albedatii de sortilegiis_.

CLM 398, 14th century, fols. 106-14, “_Belio regi Persarum vates
Albedatus salutem_.”

BN 7486, 14th century, fol. 46r-, _Albedaci philosophi ars punctorum_;
here the work is addressed to “_Delyo regi Persarum_” and is said to be
translated by “Euclid, king and philosopher.” It immediately follows
another geomancy by Alkardianus, of whom we have spoken elsewhere.

Berlin 965, 16th century, fol. 64-, “_Incipit liber Albedachi vatis
Arabici de sortilegiis ad Delium regem Persarum / Finis adest libri
Algabri Arabis de sortilegiis_”; similarly Amplonius in 1412 listed
Math, 8, “_liber subtilis valde Algabre geomanticus ad futurorum

[322] Vienna 5508, 14-15th century, fols. 200-201v, “_Ego Alcherius
inter multa prodigia / nudus postea quolibet subhumetur_.” Is this the
Alcherius mentioned by Mrs. Merrifield (1849) I, 54-6 as copying in
1409 “Experiments with Color,” from a MS which he had borrowed?

[323] CLM 489, 16th century, fols. 207-22, _Alchindi libellus de
geomantia_; also in CLM 392, 15th century.

[324] Arundel 66, 15th century, fols. 269-77, “_Liber sciencie
arienalis de judicis geomansie ab Alpharino filio Abrahe Judeo editus
et a Platone de Hebreico sermone in Latinum translatus_.”

CLM 11998, anno 1741, fol. 209-, _Alfakini Arabici filii quaestiones
geomantiae a Platone in Latinum translatae anno 1535_ (which cannot be

CU Magdalene College 27 (F. 4. 27, Haenel 23) late 14th century, fols.
120-125v, “_Incipit liber arenalis sciencie ab alfarino abizarch editus
et a Platone Tiburtino de Arabico in latinum translatus_.”

[325] Bologna University Library 449, 14th century, “_Geomantia ex
Arabico translata per Magistrum Gerardum de Cremona. Si quis partem
geomanticam / multum bonum signi_.”

Magliabech XX-13, fol. 61.

Digby 74, 15-16th century, fols. 1-52.

Sloane 310, 15th century.

Amplon. Quarto 373, 14th century, fols. 1-31, with notes at 32-37.

CLM 276, 14th century, fols. 69-75, _Geomantia mag. Gerardi Cremonensis
ab auctoribus via astronomice conposita_.

Also printed under the title _Geomantia astronomica_ in H. C. Agrippa,
_Opera_, 1600, pp. 540-53.

[326] See note 324.

[327] CLM 489, 16th century, fol. 174-, _Michaelis Scoti geomantia_.

[328] MSS of Hugo’s geomancy have already been listed in chapter 38, p.

[329] CLM 588, 14th century, fols. 6-58, “_Incipit geomantia a fratre
gilberto (?) de morbeca domini pape penitentionario compilata quam
magistro arnulfo nepoti suo commendavit_.”

CLM 905, 15th century, fols. 1-64, _Wilhelmi de Morbeca Geomantia_.

Wolfenbüttel 2725, 14th century, “_Geomantia fratris Guilhelmi de
Marbeta penitenciarii domini pape dedicata Arnulpho nepoti. Anno
domini millesimo ducentesimo octuagesimo octavo. Hoc opus est scientie

Vienna 5508, 14-15th century, fol. 1-, “_Liber geomancie editus a
fratre Wilhelmo de Morbeta. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus / querenti vel
in brevi_.”

Amplon. Quarto 373, 14th century, fols. 39-118; Qu. 377, 62-67; Qu. 384.

For MSS in Paris see HL 21; 146.

Magliabech. XX-13, 15th century, fol. 101-, in Italian.

CU Trinity 1447, 14th century, fols. 1-112r, a French translation made
by Walter the Breton in 1347. He states that Moerbeke’s Latin version
was translated from the Greek.

[330] Magliabech, XX-13, 15th century, fol. 210-, “_del detto Çacheria
Albiçarich_,” translated from Hebrew into Latin by “_maestro Saliceto_.”

[331] CLM 392, 15th century; 489, 16th century, fol. 222, _Petri de
Abano Patavini modus iudicandi quaestiones_; in both MSS accompanied by
the geomancy ascribed to Alkindi. Printed in Italian translation, 1542.

[332] BN 15353, 13-14th century, fol. 87-, _Archanum magni Dei
revelatum Tholomeo regi Arabum de reductione geomancie ad orbem, tr. de
Bernard de Gordon, datée de 1295_.

[333] Harleian 2404, English hand, two geomancies (_Indeana_).

Sloane 314, 15th century, fols. 2-64, Latin and French, “_Et est
Gremmgi Indyana, que vocatur filia astronomie quam fecit unus sapientum

With the opinions of Siger of Brabant in 1277 was condemned a book of
geomancy which opened “_Estimaverunt Indi_”; _Chart. Univ. Paris_, I,

CU Magdalene College 27 (F. 4. 27), late 14th century, fols. 72-88,
“_Hec est geomantia Indiana_.”

[334] Sloane 3487, 15th century, fols. 2-193, _Geomantia Ro.
Scriptoris_, fol. 2r, “... _arabes antiquissimi et sapientes moderni
Guillelmus de morbeca, Bartholomeus de Parma, Gerardus Cremonensis, et
alii plures_.”

[335] A geomancy by Ralph of Toulouse, however, preserved in a 14th
century MS, has, like Bernard’s, the four pages of key followed by
the twenty-eight pages of “judges of the fates,” from “_Almatene_” to
“_Algagalauro_.” Berlin 969, fol. 282-, “_Divinaciones magistri Radulfi
de Tolosa_.”

[336] Arundel 66 (see above, p. 119, note 5); the portrait of Henry is
at fol. 201, at fols. 277v-87, “_Tabulae Humfridi Ducis Glowcestriae in
judiciis artis geomansie_.”

[337] Corpus Christi 190, fols. 11-52, “_Explicit liber Geomancie
compilatus per magistrum Martinum Hispanum phisicum abbatem de Cernatis
in ecclesia Vurgensi quam composuit ad preces nobilis et discreti viri
domini Archimbaldi abbatis sancti Asteensis ac canonici Parisiensis_.”

Ashmole 360-II, fols. 15-44, Explicit as above except “_Burgensi_,”
“_Archibaldi_,” and “_Astern_.”

Also by the listing of geomancies in the medieval catalogues of
monastic libraries. See James, _Libraries of Canterbury and Dover_.



 Digby 46, 14th century, fols. 7v-39v.

 Ashmole 304, 13th century, fols. 2r-30v.

 Sloane 3857, 17th century, fols. 164-95.

These three MSS are much alike both in the _Experimentarius_ proper and
the other tracts of divination which accompany it. Digby 46 has more
of them than either of the others and more pictures than Ashmole 304.
Sloane 3857 has no pictures. I have given the numbers of the folios
only for the _Experimentarius_ proper.

 Sloane 2472, a quarto in skin containing 30 leaves, dated
   in the old written catalogue as late 12th, but in Scott’s
   printed _Index_ as 14th century, fols. 3r-14v, the
   prologue and 22 of 28 Judges of the first version; fols.
   15r-21v, the last part of the method of divination by the
   36 decans, “Thoas Iudex X” to “Sorab Iudex XXXVI”; fols.
   23r-30v, divination by planets and signs as in Digby 46.

 Sloane 3554, 15th century, contains the divination of
   the physician of King Amalricus, the prologue of the
   _Experimentarius_, and the second set only of 28 Judges.

The following MSS also contain only this second version:

 Ashmole 342, early 14th century, #2.

 Ashmole 399, late 13th century, fols. 54-8.

 CU Trinity 1404 (II), 14-15th century, fols. 2-16.

 Royal 12-C-XII, fols. 108-23, has the second version of the
   _Experimentarius_ but also a few of the other items of
   divination found in Ashmole 304.

The first set of 28 Judges is found without mention of Bernard
Silvester in the following MSS:

 BN 7486, 14th century, fol. 30v-, “Incipit liber alkardiani
   phylosophi. Cum omne quod experitur sit experiendum
   propter se vel propter aliud.”

 Additional 15236, 13-14th century, English hand, fols.
   130-52r, “libellus Alchandiandi”; and at fols. 95r-108r,
   Prenosticon Socratis Basilei.

The prologue of the _Experimentarius_ is found alone in

 Ashmole 345, late 14th century, fol. 64, “Bernardinus.”

 Bodleian (Bernard 2177, #6) Auct. F. 3. 13, fol. 104v,
   “Bernardini silvestris.”



 Was Hildegard influenced by Bernard
 Silvester?--(Bibliographical note)--Her personality
 and reputation--Dates of her works--Question of
 their genuineness--Question of her knowledge of
 Latin--Subject-matter of her works--Relations
 between science and religion in them--Her peculiar
 views concerning winds and rivers--Her suggestions
 concerning drinking-water--The devil as the negative
 principle--Natural substances and evil spirits--Stars and
 fallen angels; sin and nature--Nature in Adam’s time;
 the antediluvian period--Spiritual lessons from natural
 phenomena--Hildegard’s attitude toward magic--Magic Art’s
 defense--True Worship’s reply--Magic properties of natural
 substances--Instances of counter-magic--Ceremony with a
 jacinth and wheaten loaf--Her superstitious procedure--Use
 of herbs--Marvelous virtues of gems--Remarkable
 properties of fish--Use of the parts of birds--Cures from
 quadrupeds--The unicorn, weasel, and mouse--What animals to
 eat and wear--Insects and reptiles--Animal compounds--Magic
 and astrology closely connected--Astrology and divination
 condemned--Signs in the stars--Superiors and inferiors;
 effect of stars and winds on elements and humors--Influence
 of the moon on human health and generation--Relation of the
 four humors to human character and fate--Hildegard’s varying
 position--Nativities for the days of the moon--Man the
 microcosm--Divination in dreams.

[Sidenote: Was Hildegard influenced by Bernard Silvester?]

The discussion of macrocosm and microcosm, _nous_ and _hyle_, by
Bernard Silvester in the _De mundi universitate_ is believed by Dr.
Charles Singer, in a recent essay on “The Scientific Views and Visions
of Saint Hildegard,” to have influenced her later writings, such as
the _Liber vitae meritorum_ and the _Liber divinorum operum_. He
writes “The work of Bernard ... corresponds so closely both in form,
in spirit, and sometimes even in phraseology to the _Liber divinorum
operum_ that it appears to us certain that Hildegard must have had
access to it.”[338] Without subscribing unreservedly to this view,
we pass on from the Platonist and geomancer of Tours to the Christian
“sibyl of the Rhine.”[339]

[Sidenote: Her personality and reputation.]

From repeated statements in the prefaces to Hildegard’s works, in
which she tells exactly when she wrote them and how old she was at
the time,--for not only was she not reticent on this point but her
different statements of her age at different times are all consistent
with one another--it is evident that she was born in 1098. Her
birthplace was near Sponheim. From the age of five, she tells us in the
_Scivias_, she had been subject to visions which did not come to her
in her sleep but in her wakeful hours, yet were not seen or heard with
the eyes and ears of sense. During her lifetime she was also subject
to frequent illness, and very likely there was some connection between
her state of health and her susceptibility to visions. She spent her
life from her eighth year in religious houses along the Nahe river,
and in 1147 became head of a nunnery at its mouth opposite Bingen, the
place with which her name was henceforth connected. She became famed
for her cures of diseases as well as her visions and ascetic life, and
it is Kaiser’s opinion that her medical skill contributed more to her
popular reputation for saintliness than all her writings. At any rate
she became very well known, and her prayers and predictions were much
sought after. Thomas Becket, who seems to have been rather too inclined
to pry into the future, as we shall see later, wrote asking for “the
visions and oracles of that sainted and most celebrated Hildegard,”
and inquiring whether any revelation had been vouchsafed her as to
the duration of the existing papal schism. “For in the days of Pope
Eugenius she predicted that not until his last days would he have peace
and grace in the city.”[340] It is very doubtful whether St. Bernard
visited her monastery and called the attention of Pope Eugenius III
to her visions, but her letters[341] show her in correspondence with
St. Bernard and several popes and emperors, with numerous archbishops
and bishops, abbots and other potentates, to whom she did not hesitate
to administer reproofs and warnings. For this purpose and to aid in
the repression of heresy she also made tours from Bingen to various
parts of Germany. There is some disagreement whether she died in 1179
or 1180.[342] Proceedings were instituted by the pope in 1233 to
investigate her claims to sainthood, but she seems never to have been
formally canonized. Gebenon, a Cistercian prior in Eberbach, made a
compendium from her _Scivias_, _Liber divinorum operum_, and _Letters_,
“because few can own or read her works.”[343]

[Sidenote: Dates of Hildegard’s works.]

As was stated above, we can date some of Hildegard’s works with
exactness. In her preface to the one entitled _Scivias_[344] she says
that in the year 1141, when she was forty-two years and seven months
old, a voice from heaven bade her commit her visions to writing. She
adds that she scarcely finished the book in ten years, so we infer that
she was working at it from 1141 to 1150. This fits exactly with what
she tells us in the preface to the _Liber vitae meritorum_, which she
was divinely instructed to write in 1158, when she was sixty years old.
Moreover, she says that the eight years preceding, that is from 1151
to 1158, had been spent in writing other treatises which also appear
to have been revealed in visions and among which were “_subtilitates
diversarum naturarum creaturarum_,” the title of another of her works
with which we shall be concerned. On the _Liber vitae meritorum_ she
spent five years, so it should have been completed by 1163. In that
year, the preface to the _Liber divinorum operum_ informs us,--and
the sixty-fifth year of her life--a voice instructed her to begin
its composition, and seven more years were required to complete it.
This leaves undated only one of the five works by her which we
shall consider, namely, the _Causae et curae_, or _Liber compositae
medicinae_ as it is sometimes called, while the _Subtilitates
diversarum naturarum creaturarum_ bears a corresponding alternative
title, _Liber simplicis medicinae_.

[Sidenote: Question of their genuineness.]

“Some would impugn the genuineness of all her writings,” says the
article on Hildegard in _The Catholic Encyclopedia_, “but without
sufficient reason.”[345] Kaiser, who edited the _Causae et curae_,
had no doubt that both it and the _Subtilitates_ were genuine works.
Recently Singer has excluded them both from his discussion of
Hildegard’s scientific views on the ground that they are probably
spurious, but his arguments are unconvincing. His objection that they
are full of German expressions which are absent in her other works is
of little consequence, since it would be natural to employ vernacular
proper names for homely herbs and local fish and birds and common
ailments, while in works of an astronomical and theological character
like her other visions there would be little reason for departing
from the Latin. Anyway Hildegard’s own assertion in the preface of
the _Liber vitae meritorum_ is decisive that she wrote that work.
The almost contemporary biography of her also states that she wrote
“certain things concerning the nature of man and the elements, and
of diverse creatures,”[346] which may be a blanket reference to the
_Causae et curae_ as well as the _Subtilitates diversarum naturarum
creaturarum_. The records which we have of the proceedings instituted
by the pope in 1233 to investigate Hildegard’s title to sainthood
mention both the _Liber simplicis medicinae_ and _Liber compositae
medicinae_ as her works; and later in the same century Matthew of
Westminster ascribed both treatises to her, stating further that the
_Liber simplicis medicinae secundum creationem_ was in eight books and
giving the full title of the other as _Liber compositae medicinae de
aegritudinum causis signis et curis_.[347] Kaiser has pointed out a
number of parallel passages in it and the _Subtilitates_, while its
introductory cosmology seems to me very similar to that of Hildegard’s
other three works. Indeed, as we consider the contents of these five
works together, it will become evident that the same peculiar views and
personality run through them all.

[Sidenote: Question of Hildegard’s knowledge of Latin.]

In the preface to the _Liber vitae meritorum_ Hildegard speaks of
a man and a girl who gave her some assistance in writing out her
visions.[348] From such passages in her own works and from statements
of her biographers and other writers[349] it has been inferred that she
was untrained in Latin grammar and required literary assistance.[350]
Or sometimes it is said that she miraculously became able to
speak and write Latin without having ever been instructed in that
language.[351] Certainly the _Causae et curae_ is a lucid, condensed,
and straightforward presentation which it would be very difficult to
summarize or excerpt. One must read it all, for further condensation
is impossible. One can hardly say as much for her other works, but a
new critical edition of them such as the _Causae et curae_ has enjoyed
might result in an improvement of the style. But our concern is rather
with their subject-matter.

[Sidenote: Subject-matter of Hildegard’s works.]

Three of the five works which we shall consider are written out in
the form of visions, and are primarily religious in their contents
but contain considerable cosmology and some human anatomy, as well as
some allusions to magic and astrology. The other two deal primarily
with medicine and natural science, and give no internal indication
of having been revealed in visions, presenting their material in
somewhat didactic manner, and being divided into books and chapters,
like other medieval treatises on the same subjects. As printed in
Migne, the _Subtleties of Different Natural Creatures_ or _Book of
Medicinal Simples_ is in nine books dealing respectively with plants,
elements, trees, stones, fish, birds, animals, reptiles, and metals.
In this arrangement there is no plan evident[352] and it would seem
more logical to have the books on plants and trees and stones and
metals together. In Schott’s edition of 1533 the discussion of stones
was omitted--perhaps properly, since Matthew of Westminster spoke of
but eight books--and the remaining topics were grouped in four books
instead of eight as in Migne. First came the elements, then metals,
then a third book treating of plants and trees, and a fourth book
including all sorts of animals.[353] That the _Subtleties_ was a widely
read and influential work is indicated by the number of manuscripts of
it listed by Schmelzeis and Kaiser. Of the five books of the _Causae
et curae_ the first, beginning with the creation of the universe,
Hyle, the creation of the angels, fall of Lucifer, and so forth,
deals chiefly with celestial phenomena and the waters of the sea and
firmament. The second combines some discussion of Adam and Eve and the
deluge with an account of the four elements and humors, human anatomy,
and various other natural phenomena.[354] With book three the listing
of cures begins and German words appear occasionally in the text.

[Sidenote: Relations between science and religion in them.]

So much attention to the Biblical story of creation and of Adam and Eve
as is shown in the first two books of the _Causae et curae_ might give
one the impression that Hildegard’s natural science is highly colored
by and entirely subordinated to a religious point of view. But this is
not quite the impression that one should take away. A notable thing
about even her religious visions is the essential conformity of their
cosmology and physiology to the then prevalent theories of natural
science. The theory of four elements, the hypothesis of concentric
spheres surrounding the earth, the current notions concerning veins and
humors, are introduced with slight variations in visions supposed to
be of divine origin. In matters of detail Hildegard may make mistakes,
or at least differ from the then more generally accepted view, and she
displays no little originality in giving a new turn to some of the
familiar concepts, as in her five powers of fire, four of air, fifteen
of water, and seven of earth.[355] But she does not evolve any really
new principles of nature. Possibly it is the spiritual application
of these scientific verities that is regarded as the pith of the
revelation, but Hildegard certainly says that she sees the natural
facts in her visions. The hypotheses of past and contemporary natural
science, somewhat obscured or distorted by the figurative and mystical
mode of description proper to visions, are embodied in a saint’s
reveries and utilized in inspired revelation. Science serves religion,
it is true, but religion for its part does not hesitate to accept

[Sidenote: Peculiar views concerning winds and rivers.]

We cannot take the time to note all of Hildegard’s minor variations
from the natural science of her time, but may note one or two
characteristic points in which her views concerning the universe and
nature seem rather daring and unusual, not to say crude and erroneous.
In the _Scivias_ she represents a blast and lesser winds as emanating
from each of four concentric heavens which she depicts as surrounding
the earth, namely, a sphere of fire, a shadowy sphere like a skin, a
heaven of pure ether, and a region of watery air under it.[356] In the
_Liber divinorum operum_ she speaks of winds which drive the firmament
from east to west and the planets from west to east.[357] In the
_Subtilitates_ Hildegard seems to entertain the strange notion that
rivers are sent forth from the sea like the blood in the veins of the
human body.[358] One gets the impression that the rivers flow up-hill
toward their sources, since one reads that “the Rhine is sent forth by
the force of the sea”[359] and that “some rivers go forth from the sea
impetuously, others slowly according to the winds.”

Since Hildegard lived on the Nahe or Rhine all her life she must
indeed have been absorbed in her visions and monastic life not to have
learned in which direction a river flows; and perhaps we should supply
the explanation, which she certainly does not expressly give in the
_Subtilitates_, that the sea feeds the rivers by evaporation or through
subterranean passages. Perhaps a passage in the _Causae et curae_ may
be taken as a correction or explanation of the preceding assertions,
in which case that work would seem to be of later date than the
_Subtilitates_. In it too Hildegard states that “springs and rivers”
which “flow from the sea” are better in the east than in the west,
but her next sentence straightway adds that they are salt and leave
a salt deposit on the sands where they flow which is medicinal.[360]
The waters rising from the southern sea are also spoken of by her as
salt.[361] Even in the _Causae et curae_ she speaks of the water of the
great sea which surrounds the world as forming a sort of flank to the
waters above the firmament.[362]

[Sidenote: Suggestions concerning drinking-water.]

On the subject of whether waters are wholesome to drink or not
Hildegard comes a trifle nearer the truth and somewhat reminds us of
the discussions of the same subject in Pliny and Vitruvius.[363] She
says that swamp water should always be boiled,[364] that well water is
better to drink than spring-water and spring-water than river water,
which should be boiled and allowed to cool before drinking;[365]
that rain-water is inferior to spring-water[366] and that drinking
snow-water is dangerous to the health.[367] The salt waters of the
west she regards as too turbid, while the fresh waters of the west are
not warmed sufficiently by the sun and should be boiled and allowed to
cool before using.[368] The salt waters arising from the south sea are
venomous from the presence in them of worms and small animals. Southern
fresh waters have been purged by the heat, but make the flesh of men
fatty and of black color.[369] Hildegard is not the first author to
advise the boiling of drinking-water,[370] but she certainly lays great
stress on this point.

[Sidenote: The devil as the negative principle.]

While the scheme of the universe put forward by ancient and medieval
science is, as we have seen, on the whole adopted even in Hildegard’s
most visionary writings, it is equally true that the religious interest
is by no means absent from her two works of medicine and natural
history. In the first place, the devil is a force in nature which she
often mentions. Her opening the _Causae et curae_ with a discussion
of creation--of course a usual starting-point with the medieval
scientist--soon leads her to speak of the fall of Lucifer. She has a
rather good theory that Lucifer in his perverse will strove to raise
himself to Nothing, and that since what he wished to do was Nothing,
he fell into nothingness and could not stand because he could find no
foundation under him.[371] But after the devil was unable to create
anything out of nothing and fell from heaven, God created the firmament
and sun, moon, and stars to show how great He was and to make the devil
realize what glory he had lost.[372] Other creatures who willingly
join themselves to the devil lose their own characteristics and become
nothing.[373] Lucifer himself is not permitted to move from Tartarus
or he would upset the elements and celestial bodies, but a throng
of demons of varying individual strength plot with him against the
universe.[374] But in other passages Hildegard seems to admit freely
the influence, if not the complete presence, of the devil in nature.
And he has the power of deceiving by assumed appearances, as Adam was
seduced by the serpent.

[Sidenote: Natural substances and evil spirits.]

Indeed, the dragon to this day hates mankind and has such a nature and
such diabolical arts in itself that sometimes when it emits its fiery
breath, the spirits of the air disturb the air.[375] This illustrates a
common feature of Hildegard’s natural history and pharmacy; namely, the
association of natural substances with evil spirits either in friendly
or hostile relationships. In the preface to the first book of the
_Subtleties_ she states that some herbs cannot be endured by demons,
while there are others of which the devil is fond and to which he joins
himself. In mandragora, for example, “the influence of the devil is
more present than in other herbs; consequently man is stimulated by
it according to his desires, whether they be good or bad.”[376] On
the other hand, the holm-oak is hostile to the spirits of the air;
one who sleeps under its shade is free from diabolical illusions, and
fumigating a house with it drives out the evil spirits.[377] Certain
fish, too, have the property of expelling demons, whether one eats
them or burns their livers or bones.[378] Finally, stones and metals
have their relations to evil spirits. It is advisable for a woman in
childbirth to hold the gem jasper in her hand, “in order that malignant
spirits of the air may be the less able to harm her and her child;
for the tongue of the ancient serpent extends itself towards the
perspiration of the child, as it emerges from the mother’s womb.”[379]
Not only does the touch of red-hot steel weaken the force of poison in
food or drink, but that metal also signifies the divinity of God, and
the devil flees from and avoids it.[380]

[Sidenote: Stars and fallen angels: sin and nature.]

It is perhaps not very surprising that we should find in Hildegard’s
works notions concerning nature which we met back in the Enoch
literature, since some of her writings take the same form of recorded
visions as Enoch’s, while one of them, the _Liber vitae meritorum_,
is equally apocalyptic. At any rate, in the _Scivias_ in the second
vision, where Lucifer is cast out of glory because of his pride, the
fallen angels are seen as a great multitude of stars, as in the _Book
of Enoch_, and we are told that the four elements were in harmony
before Lucifer’s fall.[381] The disturbing effect of sin, even human,
upon nature is again stated in the _Causae et curae_, where it is said
that normally the elements serve man quietly and perform his works. But
when men engage in wars and give way to hate and envy, the elements
are apt to rage until men repent and seek after God again.[382] In
the _Liber vitae meritorum_, too, the elements complain that they are
overturned and upset by human depravity and iniquity.[383]

[Sidenote: Nature in Adam’s time: the antediluvian period.]

The influence of the Christian religion is further shown and that of
the Bible in particular is manifested by numerous allusions to Adam
and the earliest period of Biblical history, but very few of them
find any justification in the scriptural narrative. Thus the _Liber
divinorum operum_ states[384] that after the fall of Adam and before
the deluge the sun and moon and planets and other stars were “somewhat
turbulent from excessive heat,” and that the men of that time possessed
great bodily strength in order that they might endure this heat. The
deluge reduced the temperature and men since have been weaker. In the
preface to the fifth book of the _Subtleties_ we are told that there
are certain plants which fish eat, and which, if man could procure and
eat, would enable him to go without food for four or five months. Adam
used to eat them at times after he had been cast out of Eden, but not
when he could get enough other food, as they make the flesh tough. In
the preface to the eighth book Hildegard says that all creatures were
good before Adam’s fall, but when Abel’s blood stained the soil noxious
humors arose from which venomous and deadly reptiles were generated.
These perished in the deluge, but others were generated from their
putrefying carcasses. In the _Causae et curae_, too, the names of Adam
and Eve occasionally appear in the chapter headings, for instance, “Of
Adam’s fall and of melancholy.”[385]

[Sidenote: Spiritual lessons from natural phenomena.]

Hildegard also held the view, common among medieval Christian writers,
that one purpose of the natural world about us is to illustrate the
spiritual world and life to come, and that invisible and eternal truths
may be manifested in visible and temporal objects. In the _Scivias_
she hears a voice from heaven saying, “God who established all things
by His will, created them to make His Name known and honored, not
only moreover showing in the same what are visible and temporal, but
also manifesting in them what are invisible and eternal.”[386] But
neither Hildegard nor medieval Christians in general thought that
the only purpose of natural phenomena and science was to illustrate
spiritual truth and point a moral. But this always constituted a good
excuse which sounded well when one of the clergy wished to investigate
or write about things of nature. Not that we mean to question the
sincerity of the medieval writers one whit more than that of certain
“Christian colleges” of the present which deem it wise to demonstrate
their piety and orthodoxy by maintaining compulsory chapel attendance
and holding an occasional “Convocation.” But certainly our abbess of
Bingen in the course of her writings, especially the _Subtleties_ and
_Causae et curae_, lists many natural phenomena and medical recipes
without making any mention of what spiritual truth they may or may not

[Sidenote: Hildegard’s attitude toward magic.]

Associating natural substances as much with the devil or spirits of the
air as she does, it is not surprising that Hildegard believes in the
reality of magic and has something to say about it. Magic is regarded
by Hildegard as an evil and diabolical art. She describes it in a
vision of the _Scivias_, where God Himself is represented as speaking,
as the art of seeing and hearing the devil, which was taught to men
by Satan himself.[387] Similarly in the _Liber divinorum operum_ it
is stated that Antichrist will excel “in all diabolical arts” and in
“the magic art.”[388] This was of course the usual Christian view.
In the _Liber vitae meritorum_ with more apparent originality Magic
or _Maleficium_ is presented as one of the personified Vices and is
allowed to speak for itself. It is represented as having the body of a
dog, the head of a wolf, and the tail of a lion. This beast or image
speaks in its own praise and defense as follows.

[Sidenote: Magic Art’s defense.]

“Of Mercury and other philosophers I will say many things, who by their
investigations harnessed the elements in such wise that they discovered
most certainly everything that they wished. Those very daring and very
wise men learned such things partly from God and partly from evil
spirits. And why shouldn’t they? And they named the planets after
themselves, since they had made many investigations and learned a great
deal concerning the sun and moon and stars. I, moreover, rule and reign
wherever I list in those arts, forsooth in the heavenly luminaries,
in trees and herbs and all that grows in the earth, and in beasts and
animals upon the earth, and in worms both above and below the earth.
And on my marches who is there that resists me? God created all things,
so in these arts I do Him no injury. For He wishes it, as is proved in
His scriptures and perfect works. And what would be the advantage, if
His works were so blind that no cause could be studied in them? There
wouldn’t be any.”[389]

[Sidenote: True Worship’s reply to Magic.]

To this bold attempt of Magic to identify itself with scientific
investigation, the True Worship of God responds with the counter
question, “Whether it is more pleasing to God to adore Him or His
works?” and reminds _Maleficium_ that mere creatures which proceed
from God can give life to no one and that man is the only rational
created being. “You, moreover, O Magic Art, have the circle without
the center, and while you investigate many problems in the circle of
creation ... you have robbed God of His very name.” This reply does not
seem to separate magic and scientific investigation or to deny Magic’s
claim that they are identical, and its force would seem about as cogent
against science as against magic. But a little later in the same
work Hildegard reverts to her former charge that _maleficium_ is “by
diabolical arts,” and that its devotees “by directing all their works
to impurity turn their science also to the pursuit of evils.” “For they
name demons as their gods and worship them instead of God.”[390]

[Sidenote: Magic properties of natural substances.]

That magic, however diabolical it may be, does employ natural forces
and substances, is not only asserted by Magic Art itself, but freely
admitted by Hildegard in her discussions of the properties of animals,
plants, and minerals in her other two works, the _Subtleties of Diverse
Creatures_ and _Cases and Cures_. In the latter work she states that
while herbs in the east are full of virtue and have a good odor and
medicinal properties, those in the west are potent in the magic art
and for other phantasms but do not contribute much to the health of
the human body.[391] In the former work she tells that the tree-toad
is much employed in diabolical arts, especially when the trees are
beginning to leaf and blossom, since at this time the spirits of the
air are especially active.[392] Sometimes, however, there is a way to
remove this magic virtue from a natural substance. The root mandragora
“is no longer efficacious for magic and fantastic purposes,” if it is
purified in a fountain for a day and a night immediately after it has
been dug from the earth.[393]

[Sidenote: Instances of counter-magic.]

There are also substances which counteract magic. It has little force
in any place where a fir-tree grows, for the spirits of the air hate
and avoid such spots.[394] In the _Causae et curae_ Hildegard tells how
to compound a powder “against poison and against magic words.”[395] It
also “confers health and courage and prosperity on him who carries it
with him.” First one takes a root of geranium (_storkesnabil_) with its
leaves, two mallow plants, and seven shoots of the plantagenet. These
must be plucked at midday in the middle of April. Then they are to be
laid on moist earth and sprinkled with water to keep them green for a
while. Next they are dried in the setting sun and in the rising sun
until the third hour, when they should once more be laid on moist earth
and sprinkled with water until noon. Then they are to be removed and
placed facing the south in the full sunshine until the ninth hour, when
they should be wrapped in a cloth, with a stick on top to hold them in
place, until a trifle before midnight. Then the night begins to incline
towards day and all the evils of darkness and night begin to flee. A
little before midnight, therefore, they should be transferred to a high
window or placed above a door or in some garden where the cool air may
have access to them. As soon as midnight is passed, they are to be
removed once more, pulverized with the middle finger, and put in a new
pill-box with a little _bisemum_ to keep them from decaying but not a
sufficient quantity to overcome the scent of the herbs. A little of
this powder may be applied daily to the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, or
it may be bound on the body as an antiaphrodisiac, or it may be held
over wine without touching it but so that its odor can reach the wine,
which should then be drunk with a bit of saffron as a preventive of
indigestion, poison, magic, and so forth.

[Sidenote: Ceremony with a jacinth and wheaten loaf.]

In the _Subtilitates_[396] the following procedure is recommended, if
anyone is bewitched by phantasms or magic words so that he goes mad.
Take a wheaten loaf and cut the upper crust in the form of a cross.
First draw a jacinth through one line of the cross, saying, “May God
who cast away all the preciousness of gems from the devil when he
transgressed His precept, remove from you N. all phantasms and magic
words and free you from the ill of this madness.” Then the jacinth is
to be drawn through the other arm of the cross and this formula is to
be repeated, “As the splendor which the devil once possessed departed
from him because of his transgression, so may this madness which
harasses N. by varied phantasies and magic arts be removed from you
and depart from you.” The ceremony is then completed by the bewitched
person eating the bread around the cross.

[Sidenote: Hildegard’s superstitious procedure.]

These two illustrations make it apparent that Hildegard has a licit
magic of her own which is every whit as superstitious as the magic art
which she condemns. It is evident that she accepts not only marvelous
and occult virtues of natural substances such as herbs and gems, but
also the power of words and incantations, and rites and ceremonies of a
most decidedly magical character. In the second passage this procedure
assumed a Christian character, but the plucking and drying of the
herbs in the first passage perhaps preserves the flavor of primitive
Teutonic or Celtic paganism. Nor is such superstitious procedure
resorted to merely against magic, to whose operations it forms a sort
of homeopathic counterpart. It is also employed for ordinary medicinal
purposes, and is a characteristic feature of Hildegard’s conception of
nature and whole mental attitude. This we may further illustrate by
running through the books of the _Subtilitates_.

[Sidenote: Use of herbs.]

Except for passages connecting the devil with certain herbs which
we have already noted, Hildegard’s discussion of vegetation is for
the most part limited to medicinal properties of herbs, which are
effective without the addition of fantastic ceremonial. Sometimes
nevertheless the herbs are either prepared or administered in a rather
bizarre fashion. Insanity may be alleviated, we are told, by shaving
the patient’s head and washing it in the hot water in which _agrimonia_
has been boiled, while the hot herbs themselves are bound in a cloth
first over his heart and then upon his forehead and temples.[397] An
unguent beneficial alike for digestive and mental disorders is made of
the bark, leaves, and bits of the green wood of the fir-tree, combined
with saliva to half their weight. This mess is to be boiled in water
until it becomes thick, then butter is to be added, and the whole
strained through a cloth.[398] The mandragora root should first be worn
bound between the breast and navel for three days and three nights,
then divided in halves and these bound on the thighs for three days
and three nights. Finally the left half of the root, which resembles
the human figure, should be pulverized, camphor added to it, and
eaten.[399] If a man is always sad and in the dumps, after purifying
the mandragora root in a fountain, let him take it to bed with him,
hold it so that it will be warmed by the heat of his body, and say,
“God, who madest man from the dust of the earth without grief, I now
place next me that earth which has never transgressed”--Hildegard has
already stated that the mandragora is composed “of that earth of which
Adam was created”--“in order that my clay may feel that peace just as
Thou didst create it.” That the prayer or incantation is more essential
than the virtue of the mandragora in this operation, is indicated by
the statement that shoots of beech, cedar, or aspen may be used instead
of the mandragora.

[Sidenote: Marvelous virtues of gems.]

Other marvelous effects than routing the devil, which Hildegard
attributes to gems in the course of the fourth book of the
_Subtilitates_, are to confer intellect and science for the day, to
banish anger and dulness, bestow an equable temper, restrain lust,
cure all sorts of diseases and infirmities, endow with the gift of
sound speech, prevent thefts at night, and enable one to fast. These
marvelous results are produced either by merely having the stone in
one’s possession, or by holding it in the hand, placing it next the
skin, taking it to bed with one and warming it by the heat of the body,
breathing on it, holding it in the mouth especially when fasting,
suspending it about the neck, or making the sign of the cross with
it. In the cure of insanity by use of the magnet the stone should be
moistened with the patient’s saliva and drawn across his forehead
while an incantation is repeated.[400] A man may be brought out of
an epileptic fit by putting an emerald in his mouth.[401] Having
recovered, he should remove the gem from his mouth and say, “As the
spirit of the Lord filled the earth, so may His grace fill the temple
of my body that it may never be moved.” This ceremony is to be repeated
on nine successive mornings, and that here the gem is as important
as the prayer is indicated by the direction that the patient should
have the gem with him each time and take it out and look at it as he
repeats the incantation. Different is the procedure for curing epilepsy
by means of the gem _achates_.[402] In this case the stone should be
soaked in water for three days at the full moon; this water should
be slightly warmed, and then preserved, and all the patient’s food
cooked in it _dum luna tota crescat_. The gem should also be placed
in everything that he drinks. This astrological procedure is to be
repeated for ten months.

[Sidenote: Remarkable properties of fish.]

We have already heard that certain fish have the property of expelling
demons. Fish also have other remarkable virtues. The eye of a
_copprea_, worn in a gold or silver ring so that it touches one’s
finger, arouses a sluggish intellect.[403] The lung of a tunny fish,
taken in water, is good for a fever, and it keeps one in good health
to wear shoes and a belt made of its skin.[404] Pulverized salmon
bones are recommended for bad teeth.[405] But eating the head of a
_barbo_ gives one a headache and fever.[406] Hildegard also tells some
wonderful stories concerning the modes of generation of different
varieties of fish. In the _Causae et curae_[407] for dimness of the
eyes it is recommended to dry some walrus skin in the sun, soften it in
pure wine, and apply it in a cloth between the eyes at night. It should
be removed at midnight and applied only on alternate nights for a week.
“Either it will remove dimness of the eyes, or God does not permit this
to be done.”

[Sidenote: Use of the parts of birds.]

To render available or to enhance the occult virtues of birds Hildegard
suggests a great amount of complicated ceremonial. The heart of a
vulture, split in two, dried before a slow fire and in the sun, and
worn sewn up in a belt of doeskin, makes one tremble in the presence
of poison.[408] This is explained by the vulture’s own antipathy
to poison, which is increased and purified by the fire, sun, and
especially by the belt, for the doe is swifter and more sensitive
than other animals. Mistiness is marvelously removed from the eyes
by catching a nightingale before day-break, adding a single drop of
dew found on clean grass to its gall, and anointing the eyebrows
and lashes frequently with the same.[409] Another eye-cure consists
in cooking a heron’s head in water, removing its eyes, alternately
drying them in the sun and softening them in cold water for three
successive times, pulverizing and dissolving them in wine, and at
night frequently touching the eyes and lids with the tip of a feather
dipped in this concoction.[410] The blood of a crane, dried and
preserved, and its right foot are employed in varied ways to facilitate
child-birth.[411] Hildegard also often tells how to make a medicinal
unguent by cooking some bird in some prescribed manner and then
pulverizing certain portions of the carcass with various herbs or other
animal substances.[412] Even without the employment of ceremonial
sufficiently remarkable powers are attributed to the bodies or parts
of birds. Eating the flesh of one reduces fat and benefits epileptics,
while eating its liver is good for melancholy.[413] The liver of a
swan has the different property of purifying the lungs, while the lung
of a swan is a cure for the spleen.[414] Again, a heron’s liver cures
stomach trouble, while a cure for spleen is to drink water in which its
bones have been stewed, and if one who is sad eats its heart, it will
make him glad.[415]

[Sidenote: Cures from quadrupeds.]

Hildegard’s chapters on quadrupeds are so delightfully quaint that I
cannot pass them over, although the properties which she attributes
to them and the methods by which their virtues are utilized are not
essentially different from those in examples already given. The camel,
however, is peculiar in that its different humps have quite different
virtues.[416] The one next to its neck has the virtues of the lion; the
second, those of the leopard; the third, those of the horse. A cap of
lion’s skin cures ailments of the head whether physical or mental.[417]
Deafness may be remedied by cutting off a lion’s right ear and holding
it over the patient’s ear just long enough to warm it and to say, “Hear
_adimacus_ by the living God and the keen virtue of a lion’s hearing.”
This process is to be repeated many times. The heart of a lion is
somewhat similarly employed, but without any incantation, to make a
stupid person prudent. Burying a lion’s heart in the house is regarded
as fire insurance against its being struck by lightning, “for the lion
is accustomed to roar when he hears thunder.” Digestion is aided by
drinking water in which the dried liver of a lion has been left for
a short time. Placing a bit of the skin from between a bear’s eyes
over one’s heart removes timidity and anxiety.[418] If anyone suffers
from paralysis or one of those changeable diseases which wax and wane
with the moon like lunacy, let him select a spot where an ass has been
slain, or has died a natural death, or has wallowed, and let him
spread a cloth on the grass or ground and repose there a short time and
sleep if he can. Afterwards you should take him by the right hand and
say, “Lazarus slept and rested and rose again; and as Christ roused
him from foul decay, so may you rise from this perilous pestilence
and the changing phases of fever in that conjunction in which Christ
applied Himself to the alleviation of such complaints, prefiguring
that He would redeem man from his sins and raise him from the dead.”
With a brief interval of time allowed between, the same performance
is to be repeated thrice in the same place on the same day, and then
again thrice on the next and the third days, when the patient will be

[Sidenote: The unicorn, weasel, and mouse.]

The liver and skin of the unicorn have great medicinal virtues, but
that animal can never be caught except by means of girls, for it flees
from men but stops to gaze diligently at girls, because it marvels
that they have human forms, yet no beards. “And if there are two or
three girls together, it marvels so much the more and is the more
quickly captured while its eyes are fixed on them. Moreover, the girls
employed in capturing it should be of noble, not peasant birth, and
of the middle period of adolescence.”[420] When one weasel is sick,
another digs up a certain herb and breathes and urinates on it for an
hour, and then brings it to the sick weasel who is cured by it.[421]
But what this herb is is unknown to men and other animals, and it would
do them no good if they did know it, since its unaided virtue is not
efficacious, nor would the action of their breath or urine make it
so. But the heart of a weasel, dried and placed with wax in the ear,
benefits headache or deafness, and the head of a weasel, worn in two
pieces in a belt next the skin, strengthens and comforts the bearer and
keeps him from harm. The mouse, besides being responsible for two other
equally marvelous cures, is a remedy for epilepsy. “For inasmuch as the
mouse runs away from everything, therefore it drives away the falling
disease.”[422] It should be put in a dish of water, and the patient
should drink some of this water and also wash his feet and forehead in

[Sidenote: What animals to eat and wear.]

Hildegard gives some strange advice what animal products to eat and
wear. “Sheepskins are good for human wear, because they do not induce
pride or lust or pestilence as the skins of certain other animals
do.”[423] Pork is not good for either sick or healthy persons to eat,
in her opinion, while beef, on account of its intrinsic cold, is not
good for a man of cold constitution to eat.[424] On the other hand, she
recommends as edible various birds which would strike the modern reader
as disgusting.[425]

[Sidenote: Insects and reptiles.]

Fleas remain underground in winter but come forth to plague mankind
when the sun dries the soil in summer. But one may be rid of them by
heating some earth until it is quite dry and then scattering it upon
the bed.[426] Hildegard also describes a complicated cure for leprosy
by use of the earth from an ant-hill.[427] If a man kills a certain
venomous snake just after it has skinned itself in the cleft of a rock,
and cautiously removes its heart and dries the same in the sun, and
then preserves it in a thin metal cover, it will serve as an amulet.
Holding it in his hand will render him immune to venom and cheer him up
if he becomes gloomy or sorrowful.[428]

[Sidenote: Animal compounds.]

In the _Causae et curae_ Hildegard combines the virtues of parts of a
number of animals into one composite medicine for epilepsy.[429] Four
parts of dried mole’s blood are used because the mole sometimes shows
himself and sometimes hides, like the epilepsy itself. Two parts of
powdered duck’s bill are added because the duck’s strength is in its
beak, “and because it touches both pure and impure things with its
bill, it is repugnant to this disease which is sudden and silent.” One
portion of the powdered claws of a goose, minus the skin and flesh, is
added for much the same reason, and the claw of a goose rather than a
gander is required because the female bird is the more silent of the
two. These constituents are bound together in a cloth, placed for three
days near a recent molecast,--for such earth is more wholesome, then
are put near ice to cool and then in the sun to dry. Cakes are then to
be made with this powder and the livers of some edible animal and bird
and a little meal and cummin seed, and eaten for five days. Against
diabolical phantasms is recommended a belt made of the skin of a
roebuck, which is a pure animal, and of the skin of the _helun_, which
is a brave beast, and hence both are abhorred by evil spirits.[430]
The two strips of skin are to be fastened together by four little
steel[431] nails, and as each is clasped one repeats the formula, “In
the most potent strength of almighty God I adjure you to safeguard me”;
only in the second, third, and fourth instance instead of saying “I
adjure” (_adiuro_), the words _benedico_, _constituo_, and _confirmo_
are respectively substituted. One should be girded with this belt night
and day, and magic words will not harm one.

[Sidenote: Magic and astrology closely connected.]

We have already encountered more than one instance of observance of
the phases of the moon in Hildegard’s medicinal and magical procedure,
and have met in one of her formulae a hint that Christ employed
astrological election of a favorable conjunction in performing His
miracles. Thus as usual the influence of the stars is difficult to
separate from other occult virtues of natural substances, and we may
complete our survey of Hildegard’s writings by considering her views
concerning the celestial bodies and divination of the future.

[Sidenote: Astrology and divination condemned.]

In the passage of the _Scivias_ to which we have already referred God
condemned astrology and divination as well as magic.[432] _Mathematici_
are called “deadly instructors and followers of the Gentiles in
unbelief,” and man is reproved for believing that the stars allot
his years of life and regulate all human actions, and for cultivating
in the place of his Creator mere creatures such as the stars and
heavens, which cannot console or help him, or confer either prosperity
or happiness. Man should not consult the stars as to the length of
his life, which he can neither know beforehand nor alter. He should
not seek signs of the future in either stars or fire or birds or any
other creature. “The error of augury” is expressly rebuked. Man should
abstain not only from worshiping or invoking the devil but from making
any inquiries from him, “since if you wish to know more than you
should, you will be deceived by the old seducer.”

[Sidenote: Signs in the stars.]

It is true that sometimes by divine permission the stars are signs to
men, for the Son of God Himself says in the Gospel by Luke that “There
shall be signs in the sun and moon and stars,” and His incarnation was
revealed by a star. But it is a stupid popular error to suppose that
other men each have a star of their own, and, continues God, speaking
through the medium of Hildegard, “That star brought no aid to My Son
other than that it faithfully announced His incarnation to the people,
since all stars and creatures fear Me and simply fulfill My dictates
and have no signification of anything in any creature.” This last
observation receives further interpretation in a passage of the _Causae
et Curae_[433] which explains that the stars sometimes show many signs,
but not of the future or hidden thoughts of men, but of matters which
they have already revealed by act of will or voice or deed, so that the
air has received an impression of it which the stars can reflect back
to other men if God allows it. But the sun and moon and planets do not
always thus portray the works of men, but only rarely, and in the case
of some great event affecting the public welfare.

[Sidenote: Superiors and inferiors; effect of stars and winds on
elements and humors.]

If the stars do not even signify the fate and future of man, they
are none the less potent forces and, under God, causes in the world
of nature. “God who created all things,” writes Hildegard in the
_Liber divinorum operum_,[434] “so constituted superiors that He also
strengthens and purifies things below through these, and in the human
form introduces also those things allotted for the soul’s salvation.”
This passage has two sides; it affirms the rule of superiors over
inferiors, but it makes special provision for the salvation of the
human soul. And thus it is a good brief summary of Hildegard’s
position. Sun, moon, and stars are represented as by the will of God
cooperating with the winds--which play an important part in Hildegard’s
cosmology--in driving the elements to and fro;[435] and the humors in
the human body now rage fiercely like the leopard, now move sluggishly
like the crab, now proceed in other ways analogous to the wolf or deer
or bear or serpent or lamb or lion--animals whose heads, belching
forth winds, are seen in the vision about the rim of the heavenly
spheres.[436] They suggest the influence of the signs of the zodiac,
although there appears to be no exact correspondence to these in
Hildegard’s visionary scheme of the universe as detailed in the _Liber
divinorum operum_. In the _Causae et curae_, on the other hand, she
gives a detailed account of how pairs or triplets of planets accompany
the sun through each of the twelve signs.[437] In other passages[438]
she affirms that the sun and moon serve man by divine order, and bring
him strength or weakness according to the temper of the air.

[Sidenote: Influence of the moon on human health and generation.]

Hildegard more especially emphasizes the influence of the moon, in
which respect she resembles many an astrologer. In the _Causae et
curae_[439] she states that some days of the moon are good, others
bad; some, useful and others, useless; some, strong and others, weak.
“And since the moon has this changeability in itself, therefore the
moisture in man has its vicissitudes and mutability in pain, in labor,
in wisdom, and in prosperity.” Similarly in the _Liber divinorum
operum_[440] it is noted that human blood and brain are augmented when
the moon is full and diminish as it wanes, and that these changes
affect human health variously. Sometimes one incurs epilepsy when
the moon is in eclipse.[441] The moon is the mother of all seasons.
Hildegard marvels in the _Causae et curae_[442] that while men have
sense enough not to sow crops in mid-summer or the coldest part of
winter, they persist in begetting offspring at any time according to
their pleasure without regard either to the proper period of their
own lives or to the time of the moon. The natural consequence of
their heedlessness is the birth of defective children. Hildegard then
adds[443] by way of qualification that the time of the moon does not
dominate the nature of man as if it were his god, or as if man received
any power of nature from it, or as if it conferred any part of human
nature. The moon simply affects the air, and the air affects man’s
blood and the humors of his body.

[Sidenote: Relations of the four humors to human character and fate.]

Hildegard, however, not only believed that as the humors were perturbed
and the veins boiled, the health of the body would be affected and
perhaps a fever set in,[444] but also that passions, such as wrath
and petulance, were thereby aroused and the mind affected.[445] This
is suggested in a general way in the _Liber divinorum operum_, but is
brought out in more detail in the _Causae et curae_, where various
types of men are delineated according to the combinations of humors in
their bodies, and their characters are sketched and even their fate to
some extent predicted therefrom. In one case[446] “the man will be a
good scholar, but headlong and too vehement in his studies, so that he
scatters his knowledge over too wide a field, as straw is blown by the
wind; and he seeks to have dominion over others. In body he is healthy
except that his legs are weak and he is prone to gout; but he can
live a long while, if it so please God.” Such a passage hardly sounds
consistent with Hildegard’s statement elsewhere already noted that man
cannot know the length of his life beforehand. In the case of choleric,
sanguine, melancholy, and phlegmatic men[447] Hildegard states what
the relations of each type will be with women and even to some extent
what sort of children they will have. She also discusses four types of
women in very similar style.[448] These are not exactly astrological
predictions, but they have much the same flavor and seem to leave
little place for freedom of the will.

[Sidenote: Hildegard’s varying position.]

In one passage, however, Hildegard comfortingly adds that nevertheless
the Holy Spirit can penetrate the whole nature of man and overcome his
mutable nature as the sun dispels clouds, and so counteract the moist
influence of the moon. She also states concerning the significations
of the stars concerning man’s future, “These significations are not
produced by the virtue of the planets themselves alone or stars or
clouds, but by the permission and will and decree of God, according as
God wished to demonstrate to men the works of the same, just as a coin
shows the image of its lord.”[449] In another passage, on the other
hand, Hildegard recognizes, like Aquinas later, that it is only rarely
and with difficulty that the flesh can be restrained from sinning.[450]

[Sidenote: Nativities for the days of the moon.]

Finally, the _Causae et curae_ close with predictions for each day of
the moon of the type of male or female who will be conceived on that
day.[451] Selecting the eighteenth day by lot as an example of the
others, we read that a male conceived then will be a thief and will be
caught in the act and will be deprived of his landed property so that
he possesses neither fields nor vineyards, but strives to take from
others what is not his. He will be healthy in body and live a long
life, if left to himself. A woman conceived on that day will be cunning
and deceitful of speech and will lead upright men to death if she can.
She too will be sound of body and naturally long-lived, but sometimes
insane. Hildegard then seems to feel it advisable to add, “But such
morals, both in men and in women, are hateful to God.”

[Sidenote: Man the microcosm.]

The theory of macrocosm and microcosm had a considerable attraction
for Hildegard. At the beginning of the _Causae et curae_ she exclaims,
“O man, look at man! For man has in himself heavens and earth ...
and in him all things are latent.”[452] Presently she compares the
firmament to man’s head, sun, moon, and stars to the eyes, air to
hearing, the winds to smelling, dew to taste, and “the sides of the
world” to the arms and sense of touch. The earth is like the heart, and
other creatures in the world are like the belly.[453] In the _Liber
divinorum operum_ she goes into further detail. Between the divine
image in human form which she sees in her visions and the wheel or
sphere of the universe she notes such relationships as these. The sun
spreads its rays from the brain to the heel, and the moon directs its
rays from the eyebrows to the ankles.[454] Elsewhere she says, “The
eyebrows of man declare the journeyings of the moon, namely, the one
route by which it approaches the sun in order to restore itself, and
the other by which it recedes after it has been burnt by the sun.”[455]
Again, from the top of the cerebral cavity to “the last extremity of
the forehead” there are seven distinct and equal spaces, by which are
signified the seven planets which are equidistant from one another
in the firmament.[456] An even more surprising assumption as to
astronomical distances is involved in the comparison[457] that as the
three intervals between the top of the human head and the end of the
throat and the navel and the groin are all equal, so are the spaces
intervening between the highest firmament and lowest clouds and the
earth’s surface and center. Corresponding to these intervals Hildegard
notes three ages of man, infancy, adolescence, and old age. One more
passage may be noted, since it also involves a similar explanation
of weeping for joy to that given by Adelard of Bath. As the heart is
stirred by emotion, whether of joy or of sorrow, humors are excited in
the lungs and breast which rise to the brain and are emitted through
the eyes in the form of tears. And in like manner, when the moon begins
to wax or wane, the firmament is disturbed by winds which raise fogs
from the sea and other waters.[458]

[Sidenote: Divination in dreams.]

If Hildegard resorts to a magic of her own in order to counteract the
diabolical arts, and if she accepts a certain amount of astrological
doctrine for all her censure of it, it is not surprising to find her
in the _Causae et curae_ saying a word in favor of natural divination
in dreams despite her rejection of augury and such arts. She believes
that, when God sent sleep to Adam before he had yet sinned, his soul
saw many things in true prophecy, and that the human soul may still
sometimes do the same, although too often it is clouded by diabolical
illusions.[459] But when the body is in a temperate condition and the
marrow warmed in due measure, and there is no disturbance of vices or
contrariety of morals, then very often a sleeper sees true dreams.[460]
Hildegard’s own visions, as we have seen, came to her in her waking


[338] Singer (1917) p. 19.

[339] Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, vol. 197. This volume contains the
account of Hildegard in the _Acta Sanctorum_, including the _Vita
sanctae Hildegardis auctoribus Godefrido et Theodorico monachis_, etc.;
the _Subtilitatum diversarum naturarum creaturarum libri novem_, as
edited by Daremberg and Reuss; the _Scivias_ and the _Liber divinorum
operum simplicis hominis_. I shall cite this in the following chapter
simply as _Migne_ without repeating the number of the volume.

Pitra, _Analecta sacra_, vol. VIII (1882). This volume contains
the only printed edition of the _Liber vitae meritorum_, pp.
1-244,--Heinemann, in describing a thirteenth century copy of it (MS
1053, S. Hildegardis liber meritorum vite) in 1886 in his Catalogue
of Wolfenbüttel MSS, was therefore mistaken in speaking of it as
“unprinted,”--an imperfect edition of the _Liber compositae medicinae
de aegritudinum causis signis atque curis_, and other works by

A better edition of the last named work is: _Hildegardis causae et
curae_, ed. Paulus Kaiser, Leipzig, Teubner, 1903.

Earlier editions of the _Subtilitates_ were printed at Strasburg by J.
Schott in 1533 and 1544 as follows:

_Physica S. Hildegardis elementorum fluminum aliquot Germaniae
metallorum leguminum fructuum et herbarum arborum et arbustorum piscium
denique volatilium et animantium terrae naturas et operationes IV
libris mirabili experientia posteritati tradens_, Argentorati, 1533.

_Experimentarius medicinae continens Trotulae curandarum aegritudinum
muliebrum ... item quatuor Hildegardis de elementorum fluminum aliquot
Germaniae metallorum ... herbarum piscium et animantium terrae naturis
et operationibus_, ed. G. Kraut, 1544.

F. A. Reuss, _De libris physicis S. Hildegardis commentatio
historico-medica_, Würzburg, 1835.

F. A. Reuss, _Der heiligen Hildegard Subtilitatum diversarum naturarum
creaturarum libri novem, die werthvolleste Urkunde deutscher Natur- und
Heilkunde aus dem Mittelalter_. In _Annalen des Vereins für Nassau.
Alterthumskunde und Geschichtsforschung_, Bd. VI, Heft i, Wiesbaden,

Jessen, C. in _Sitzb. Vienna, Math, naturw. Klasse_, (1862) XLV, i. 97.

Jessen, C. _Botanik in kulturhistorischer Entwickelung_, Leipzig, 1862,
pp. 124-26.

Jessen, C. in _Anzeiger für Kunde der deutschen Vorzeit_, (1875), p.

Von der Linde, _Die Handschriften der Kgl. Landesbibl. in Wiesbaden_,
Wiesbaden, 1877.

Schmelzeis, J. Ph. _Das Leben und Wirken der hl. Hildegardes_,
Freiburg, 1879.

Battandier, A. “Sainte Hildegarde, sa vie et ses œuvres,” in _Revue des
questions historiques_, XXXIII (1883), 395-425.

Roth, F. W. E. in _Zeitsch. für kirchl. Wissenschaft u. kirchl. Leben_,
Leipzig, IX (1888), 453.

Kaiser, P. _Die Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften der hl. Hildegard_,
Berlin, 1901. (_Schulprogramm des Königsstädtischen Gymnasiums in
Berlin._) A pamphlet of 24 pages. See also his edition, mentioned
above, of the _Causae et curae_.

Singer, Chas. “The Scientific Views and Visions of Saint Hildegard,” in
_Studies in the History and Method of Science_, Oxford, 1917, pp. 1-55.
Dr. Singer seems unacquainted with the above work by Kaiser, writing
(p. 2) “The extensive literature that has risen around the life and
works of Hildegard has come from the hands of writers who have shown no
interest in natural knowledge.” Yet see also

Wasmann, E. “Hildegard von Bingen als älteste deutsche
Naturforscherin,” in _Biologisches Zentralblatt_ XXXIII (1913) 278-88.
Herwegen in the _Kirchl. Handlexicon_ (1908), I, 1970.

[340] Migne, 28, citing Baronius, _Ann._ 1148, from _Epist. S. Thomas_,
I, 171.

[341] I have noted one MS of them in the British Museum, Harleian 1725.

[342] Migne, 84-85, 129-130.

[343] CLM 2619, 13th century, Gebenonis prioris Cisterc. in Eberbach,
Speculum futurorum temporum sive Compendium prophetiarum S.
Hildegardis; also, at Rome, Bibl. Alex. 172, 14th century, fols. 1-29.

[344] Early MSS of the _Liber Scivias simplicis hominis_ are Palat.
Lat. 311, 12th century, 204 fols.; Merton 160, early 13th century.

[345] Citing Preyer, _Gesch. d. deutsch. Mystik._ 1874; Hauck,
_Kirchengesch_, _Deutsch_. IV, 398; Von Winterfeld, _Neue Archiv_,
XXVII, 297.

[346] Migne, 101, _quaedam de natura hominis et elementorum,
diversarumque creaturarum_. Singer, taking the words as an exact title
of one work, tries to deny that they apply even to the _Subtilitates_;
but the writer of the _Vita_ is obviously simply giving a general idea
of the subjects treated by Hildegard.

[347] In what is so far the only known extant copy, a thirteenth
century MS at Copenhagen, which Jessen discovered in 1859 and called
attention to in 1862 (_Act. Acad. Vindob._, XLV, i. 97-116), the
Titulus is _Causae et curae_ (shown in facsimile by Singer (1917),
Plate 5a.)

[348] Pitra, 7-8, “Et ego testimonio hominis illius quem ut in
prioribus visionibus praefata sum occulte quaesieram et inveneram et
testimonio cuiusdam puellae mihi assistentis manus ad ascribendum

[349] Vincent of Beauvais, _Speculum historiale_, XXVII, 83, and other
actors cited from the _Acta Sanctorum_ in Migne, col. 197.

[350] This may be a further explanation of the use of German words in
some of her works and their absence in others.

[351] Migne, 17, 19-20, 73-74, 93, 101.

[352] It is, however, the order in at least one of the MSS,
Wolfenbüttel 3591, 14th century, fols. 1-174, except that the second
book is called Of rivers instead of, Of elements: “_B. Hildegardis
Physica seu liber subtilitatum de diversis creaturis, scilicet f. 2 de
herbis, f. 62 de fluminibus, f. 67 de arboribus, f. 90 de lapidibus
preciosis, f. 106v de piscibus, f. 120 de volatilibus, f. 141 de
animalibus, f. 162 de vermibus, f. 168 de metallis._”

[353] It was, however, subdivided into three parts, treating
respectively of fish, fowl, and other animals.

[354] The variety and confusing order of its contents may be best
and briefly indicated by a list of chapter heads (pp. 33-52): _De
Adae casu_, _de spermate_, _de conceptu_, _quare homo hirsutus
est_, _de reptilibus_, _de volatilibus_, _de piscibus_, _de
conceptus diversitate_, _de infirmitatibus_, _de continentia_, _de
incontinentia_, _de flegmaticis_, _de melancholis_, _de melancholice
morbo_, _de elementorum commixtione_, _de rore_, _de pruina_, _de
nebula_, _quod quatuor sunt elementa tantum_, _de anima et spiritibus_,
_de Adae creatione_, _de capillis_, _de interioribus hominis_, _de
auribus_, _de oculis et naribus_, _quod in homine sunt elementa_, _de
sanguine_, _de carne_, _de generatione_, _de Adae vivificatione_, _de
Adae prophetia_, _de animae infusione_, _de Adae somno_, _de Evae
malitia_, _de exilio Adae_, _quare Eva prius cecidit_, _de diluvio_,
_quare filii Dei_, _de lapidum gignitione_, _de iri_, _de terrae situ_,
_quod homo constat de elementis_, _de flegmate diversitate_, _de
humoribus_, _de frenesi_, _de contractis_, _de stultis_, _de paralysi_.

[355] _Causae et curae_, pp. 20 and 30.

[356] Migne, 403-4.

[357] Migne, 791-95.

[358] _Subtilitates_, II, 3 (Migne, 1212), _Mare flumina emittit quibus
terra irrigatur velut sanguine venarum corpus hominis_.

[359] _Subtilitates_, II, 5 (Migne), _Rhenus a mari impetu emittitur_.
Singer (p. 14) is so non-plussed by this that he actually interprets
_mari_ as the lake of Constance, and asks, questioning Hildegard’s
authorship of the _Subtilitates_, “How could she possibly derive all
rivers, Rhine and Danube, Meuse and Moselle, Nahe and Glan, from the
same lake, as does the author of the _Liber subtilitatum_?”

That all waters, fresh or salt, came originally from the sea is
asserted in the _Secretum Secretorum_ of the Pseudo-Aristotle, as
edited by Roger Bacon: Steele (1920), p. 90.

[360] _Causae et curae_ (1903), p. 24.

[361] _Ibid._, p. 25.

[362] _Ibid._, p. 23.

[363] See Vitruvius, Book VIII, chapters 2-4, on “Rain-water,” “Various
Properties of Different Waters,” and “Tests of Good Water.” Pliny,
NH, Book XXXI, chapters 21-23, on “The Wholesomeness of Waters,” “The
Impurities of Water,” “Modes of Testing Water.”

[364] _Causae et curae_ (1903), p. 27.

[365] _Ibid._, p. 28.

[366] Vitruvius held that rain-water was unusually wholesome, but Pliny
disputed this notion.

[367] _Causae et curae_ (1903), p. 30, “si quis eam bibit, ulcera et
scabies in eo saepissime crescunt ac viscera eius livore implentur.”
Pliny noted the belief that ice-water and snow-water were unhealthy,
and both he (XXXVII, 11) and Vitruvius speak of Alpine streams which
cause diseases or swellings in the throat.

[368] _Causae et curae_ (1903), pp. 24-25.

[369] _Causae et curae_ (1903), p. 26.

[370] Both Vitruvius and Pliny mention the practice, and the latter
calls it an invention of the emperor Nero. A note, however, in Bostock
and Riley’s translation of the _Natural History_ states that Galen
ascribed the practice to Hippocrates and that Aristotle was undoubtedly
acquainted with it. When Pliny goes on to say, “Indeed, it is generally
admitted that all water is more wholesome when it has been boiled,”
another translator’s note adds, “This is not at all the opinion at the
present day,” that is, 1856. But apparently the progress of medical and
biological science since 1856 has been in this respect a retrogression
to Pliny’s view.

[371] _Causae et curae_ (1903), p. 1. Somewhat similarly Moses
Maimonides, the Jewish philosopher, who was born thirty-seven years
after Hildegard, held that evil was mere privation and that the
personal devil of scripture was an allegorical representation thereof.
He also denied the existence of demons, but considered belief in angels
as second only in importance to a belief in God. See Finkelscherer
(1894) pp. 40-51; Mischna Commentary to Aboda-zara, IV, 7; Lévy (1911)

[372] _Causae et curae_ (1903), p. 11.

[373] _Ibid._, p. 5.

[374] _Causae et curae_, pp. 57-58.

[375] _Subtleties_, VIII, 1.

[376] _Ibid._, I, 56.

[377] _Ibid._, III, 25.

[378] _Ibid._, V, 1 and 4.

[379] _Ibid._, IV, 10.

[380] _Ibid._, IX, 8.

[381] Migne, 387-9.

[382] (1903) p. 57.

[383] II, 1, “Querela elementorum. ‘Nam homines pravis operibus suis
velut molendinum subvertunt nos.’” III, 23, “Quod elementa humanis
iniquitatibus subvertuntur.”

[384] Migne, 966.

[385] (1903), p. 143.

[386] Migne, 404-405.

[387] Vision III, Migne, 410.

[388] Vision X, 28 and 32, Migne, 1028 and 1032.

[389] Pitra (1882) _Vitae meritorum_, V, 6-7.

[390] _Vitae meritorum_, V, 32.

[391] _Causae et curae_ (1903) 31-32.

[392] _Subtleties_, VIII, 6.

[393] _Subtleties_, I, 56.

[394] _Ibid._, III, 23.

[395] (1903), p. 196.

[396] IV, 2.

[397] _Subtleties_, I, 114.

[398] _Ibid._, III, 23.

[399] _Ibid._, I, 56.

[400] _Subtleties_, IV, 18.

[401] _Ibid._, IV, 1.

[402] _Ibid._, IV, 16.

[403] _Ibid._, V, 8.

[404] _Ibid._, V, 1.

[405] _Subtleties_, V, 5.

[406] _Ibid._, V, 10.

[407] (1903), pp. 193-4.

[408] _Subtleties_, VI, 7.

[409] _Ibid._, VI, 49.

[410] _Ibid._, VI, 6.

[411] _Ibid._, VI, 4.

[412] _Ibid._, VI, 5, 20, 40.

[413] _Subtleties_, VI, 2.

[414] _Ibid._, VI, 5.

[415] _Ibid._, VI, 6.

[416] _Ibid._, VII, 2.

[417] _Ibid._, VII, 3.

[418] _Ibid._, VII, 4.

[419] _Subtleties_, VII, 9.

[420] _Ibid._, VII, 5.

[421] _Ibid._, VII, 38.

[422] _Ibid._, VII, 39.

[423] _Subtleties_, VII, 16.

[424] _Ibid._, VII, 17.

[425] _Ibid._, VII, 14.

[426] _Ibid._, VII, 42.

[427] _Ibid._, VII, 43.

[428] _Ibid._, VIII, 2.

[429] (1903), pp. 206-7.

[430] (1903), pp. 194-5.

[431] (1903), p. 195, “Nam calibs est firmamentum et ornamentum aliarum
rerum et est quasi quaedam adiunctio ad vires hominis quemadmodum homo
fortis est.”

[432] Migne, 409-14; I alter the order somewhat in my summary.

[433] (1903), p. 15.

[434] Migne, 807.

[435] Migne, 791 and 798.

[436] Migne, 732 et seq.

[437] (1903), pp. 11-14.

[438] Migne, 778.

[439] (1903), pp. 16-17.

[440] Migne, 779.

[441] Migne, 793.

[442] (1903), pp. 17-18; and again 77-78; see also p. 97, “_de
concepta in plenilunio_.”

[443] (1903), p. 19.

[444] Migne, 793.

[445] (1903), p. 19.

[446] (1903), p. 54.

[447] _Causae et curae_ (1903), pp. 70-76.

[448] _Ibid._, pp. 87-9.

[449] _Ibid._, pp. 19-20.

[450] _Ibid._, p. 84.

[451] _Ibid._, pp. 235-42.

[452] (1903), p. 2.

[453] (1903), p. 10.

[454] Migne, 779.

[455] Migne, 833.

[456] Migne, 819.

[457] Migne, 943.

[458] Migne, 829.

[459] (1903), p. 82.

[460] (1903), p. 83.



 His picture of the learned world--Chief events of his
 life--General character of the _Polycraticus_--Magic,
 _maleficia_, and _mathematica_--Use of Isidore
 on magic--Relation of Thomas Becket to John’s
 discussion--Inconsistent Christian attitude toward
 superstition--Divine and natural signs--Miracle and
 occult virtue--Interpretation of dreams--Dreams of Joseph
 and Daniel--The witchcraft delusion--Prevalence of
 astrology--John’s attack upon it--Does astrology imply fatal
 necessity?--John’s lame conclusion--Other varieties of
 magic--Thomas Becket’s consultation of diviners--Witch of
 Endor: exorcisms--Divination from polished surfaces--Natural
 science and medicine--Summary.

[Sidenote: His picture of the learned world.]

In 1159 John of Salisbury completed his two chief works, the
_Metalogicus_ and the _Polycraticus_.[461] In the former he tells the
interesting story of his education in the schools of northern France,
and describes the teachers and methods of the humanistic school of
Chartres and the schools of logic at Paris. This valuable picture of
educational conditions in the middle of the twelfth century has already
supplied us with a number of bits of information concerning authors of
whom we have treated. Its importance in the history of the study of
the classics and of scholasticism has long been recognized, and its
content has often been reproduced in secondary works, so that we need
not dwell upon it specifically here.[462] Moreover, although John spent
some twelve years in his studies in France, he appears from his own
statements to have passed from the study of logic and “grammar” to that
of theology without devoting much attention to natural science,[463]
although he received some instruction in the Quadrivium from Richard
Bishop and Hardewin the Teuton. He was, it is true, according to his
own statement, a pupil of William of Conches for three years, but he
always alludes to William as a grammarian, not as a writer on natural
philosophy and astronomy. This one-sided description of William’s
teaching warns us not to place too implicit faith in John’s account of
the learned world of his times. Even if reliable as it stands, it is
not in itself a complete or adequate picture. In the _Polycraticus_,
however, he engages in a rather long discussion of magic, astrology and
other forms of divination which it behooves us to note.

[Sidenote: Chief events of his life.]

John tells us that he was a mere lad when in 1136 he first came from
England to Gaul to hear the famous Abelard lecture. Like many medieval
students, he was or soon came to be in a needy condition and eked out a
living at one time by tutoring the sons of nobles. During the time that
had elapsed between his long training in the liberal arts and theology
and his writing of the _Metalogicus_ in 1159, he had led a busy life
in the employ of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, crossing the Alps
ten times, journeying twice all the way from England to Apulia, and
frequently traveling about England and what is now France (John says,
“the Gauls”--_Gallias_). In 1159 he addressed the _Polycraticus_ to
Thomas Becket, then absent with Henry II as his chancellor at the siege
of Toulouse. Thomas was just about John’s age and, before he became
chancellor in 1154 at the age of thirty-six, had been like John first
a student and then in the employ of Archbishop Theobald. John sided
with Thomas Becket in the struggle with Henry II, retired to France,
and returned to England with him in 1170. In 1176 he crowned his career
by becoming bishop of Chartres where perhaps some years of his early
studies had been spent. His death was in 1180.

[Sidenote: General character of the _Polycraticus_.]

In the _Metalogicus_ John tells us that he has scarcely touched a book
of logic since he left the _palaestra_ of the dialecticians so many
years ago, but he returns to the subject again in that work. In the
_Polycraticus_ his literary tastes and interests are more manifest. He
writes a good Latin style and shows a wide acquaintance with classical
authors and ancient history as well as with patristic literature.
The character and content of the _Polycraticus_ is more clearly
suggested by its sub-title, “Courtiers’ Trifles and Philosophers’
Footprints” (_De nugis curialium et vestigiis philosophorum_). In part
it is satirical, although there is considerable serious discussion
of the state and philosophy and much moralizing for the benefit of
contemporary courts and statesmen. John confesses that the entire work
is little more than a patch-work of other men’s opinions, sometimes
without specific acknowledgment of the authorities. He professes to
believe that Thomas will recognize the sources of these passages
without being told, while other readers who are more ignorant will be
thereby spurred on to wider reading. These quotations, moreover, are
either from ancient classical or comparatively early Christian writers.
John does not epitomize recent literature and thought, although he
makes application of the thought of the past to contemporary society
and politics, and although he shows some acquaintance with the works
of contemporary writers such as Bernard Silvester. In the main his
attitude is essentially conservative; he repeats traditional views in
an attractive but somewhat dilettante literary form, with such rational
criticism as a study of the classics might be expected to produce when
qualified by scrupulous adherence to medieval Christian dogma. This is
especially true of his discussion of the magic arts and astrology.

[Sidenote: Magic, _maleficia_, and _mathematica_.]

John begins to discuss magic in the first of the eight books of the
_Polycraticus_ after a few chapters have been taken up with such other
triflings of courtiers as hunting, dicing, music, and theatrical
shows and spectacles. More harmful than the illusions of the stage, he
declares, are those of the magic arts and various kinds of disreputable
_mathematica_, long since forbidden by the holy fathers who knew
that all these _artificia_, or rather _maleficia_ arose from a fatal
familiarity of men and demons.[464] John thus takes as practically
synonymous the three terms, _magica_, _mathematica_ and _maleficium_.
He presently explains that the word _mathesis_ in one sense denotes
learning in general, but that when it has a long penultima, it
signifies the figments of divination,[465] which belong under magic,
whose varieties are many and diverse. Thus magic is John’s most general
and inclusive term for all occult arts.

[Sidenote: Use of Isidore on magic.]

The account of magic in John’s ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth
chapters is largely derived without acknowledgment from that of
Isidore of Seville.[466] We have already seen how this became a stock
description of the subject copied with little change by successive
writers and embodied in the decretals of the church. It is rather
surprising that a writer as well versed in the classics as John is
generally supposed to be should not have borrowed his account more
directly from some such ancient Latin writers as Pliny and Apuleius.
John, however, alters the wording and arrangement and consequently the
emphasis considerably. He makes it seem, for example, that several
magic arts, which really have nothing to do with predicting the future,
are sub-varieties of divination. He also adds some new varieties to
Isidore’s list of practitioners of the magic arts. The _vultivoli_ try
to affect men by making images of them from wax or clay. _Imaginarii_,
on the other hand, make images with the intent that demons should enter
these images and instruct them in regard to doubtful matters. Besides
interpreters of dreams (_conjectores_) and chiromancers John further
mentions _specularii_ who practise divination by gazing into polished
surfaces such as the edges of swords, basins, and mirrors. It was this
art that Joseph is described as exercising or pretending to exercise,
when he charged his brothers with having made off with the cup in which
he was wont to practice divination. The thirteenth and closing chapter
of John’s first book is a long list of omens from Roman history and
Latin literature, especially Vergil.

[Sidenote: Relation of Thomas Becket to John’s discussion.]

In the second book he resumes the same subject after a brief and
somewhat apologetic preface in which he states that all things are of
use to the wise man. Therefore he responds with alacrity to Thomas
Becket’s request that he publish his trifles, introducing interpreters
of dreams and astrologers with some other triflers. We shall later meet
with some further explanation of Thomas’ interest in such matters. It
is perhaps significant that John further expresses his confidence that
Thomas will faithfully protect those in whom he has inspired boldness
of utterance,[467] but it would be too much to assume from it that
John fears any persecution because he discusses such subjects. More
likely he merely shares the common medieval fear of the envious bite of
critics and reviewers, or wishes to remind Thomas of his need of his
patronage. At any rate he closes the prologue with the request that
Thomas will correct any mistake in either book.

[Sidenote: Inconsistent Christian attitude toward superstition.]

In opening his second book John subscribes to the proverb that he who
trusts in dreams and auguries will never be secure and asks--like
Cicero in his _De divinatione_[468]--what possible connection there
can be between sneezes, yawns, and other such things accepted as signs
and the events which they are supposed to signify. With Isidore and
Augustine[469]--although he names neither--he rejects those empty
incantations and superstitious ligatures which the entire medical
art condemns, although some call them _physica_.[470] This seems like
an admirable approach to an attitude of rational criticism, but John
after all may be merely repeating others’ statements like a parrot,
and he entirely spoils its effect by what he goes on to say. He
believes that the cloak of St. Stephen raised the dead, and that such
practices as saying the Lord’s prayer while plucking or administering
medicinal herbs, or wearing or hearing or repeating the names of the
four evangelists,[471] are not only allowable but most useful. He adds
further that the force of all omens depends upon the faith of the

[Sidenote: Divine and natural signs.]

Although opposing faith in omens and augury, John admits that God
provides signs for His creatures, such as those of the weather which
sailors and farmers learn by experience and the birds are not ignorant
of, or the indications by which doctors can prognosticate the course of
diseases. Unfortunately the demons also are able to show signs and thus
lead men astray. Mention of signs which preceded the fall of Jerusalem
then leads John into a digression for several chapters concerning the
horrors of the siege itself and Vespasian and Titus, a passage which
was very likely inserted because Henry II and Becket were at that very
time engaged in laying siege to Toulouse.

[Sidenote: Miracle and occult virtue.]

Returning to the subject of signs, John interprets the verse in Luke,
“There shall be signs in sun and moon and stars” as having reference
to unnatural signs, and the obscuration of the sun during Christ’s
passion as not a natural eclipse.[472] John explains that by nature he
means “the accustomed course of things or the occult causes of events
for which a reason can be given.”[473] If, however, we accept Plato’s
definition of nature as the will of God there will be no unnatural
events. But John would distinguish between the gradual growth of leaves
and fruit on tree or vine by means of roots drawing nutriment from
earth’s vitals and sap produced within the trunk, which is indeed
marvelous and has the most occult causes, and the performance of the
same process without any interval of time, which he regards as a
miracle and of a divine height which transcends our understanding.
After drawing this distinction between divine miracle and wonders
wrought by occult virtues in nature John returns again to the subject
of signs.

[Sidenote: Interpretation of dreams.]

For some chapters the topic of dreams and their interpretation absorbs
his attention,[474] and at first he discusses in an apparently
credulous and approving tone “the varied significations of dreams,
which both experience approves and the authority of our ancestors
confirms.”[475] He explains that now the dream concerns the dreamer
himself, now someone else, now common interests, sometimes the public
or general welfare; and he quotes Nestor to the effect that “trust
is put in the king’s dream concerning public matters.”[476] After
referring credulously to the Sibylline verses predicting Christ’s
incarnation, passion, and ascension, John continues his exposition
of the interpretation of dreams. He explains that the season of
year when one dreams, the place where one dreams, and the personal
characteristics of the dreamer must all be taken into account; that
sometimes interpretations should be by contraries, and again from
like to like. But then he checks himself with the words: “But while
we pursue these traditions of the interpreters, I fear lest we
deservedly seem not so much to trace the art of interpretation, which
is either no art at all or an idle one, as to dream ourselves.” He
adds further, “Whoever fastens his credulity to the significations of
dreams evidently wanders as far from sincere faith as from the path of

[Sidenote: Dreams of Joseph and Daniel.]

John then attacks the _Dream-Book of Daniel_, which he says “circulates
impudently among the hands of the curious” and gives a specific
interpretation for each thing imagined by the dreamer. He denies the
truth and authority of the book and argues at some length that neither
Joseph nor Daniel would have composed such a work, and that they
interpreted dreams by divine inspiration, not by any occult art learned
in Chaldea or Egypt. In the first place, the method of interpretation
set forth in this book is faulty and crude. The remainder of John’s
argument is worth quoting in part:

“Daniel indeed had the grace to interpret visions and dreams, which
the Lord inspired in him, but it is inconceivable that a holy man
should reduce this vanity to an art, when he knew that the Mosaic law
prohibited any of the faithful to heed dreams, being aware how Satan’s
satellite for the subversion of men is transformed into an angel of
light and how suggestions are made by bad angels. Joseph, too, won
the rule of Egypt by his ability to predict.... But if this could
have come from any science of human wisdom, I should think that some
one of his ancestors before him would have merited it, or I should
think that the saint, desirous of serving science and full of pious
impulses, would have left the art as a legacy, if not to the human race
at large, which would nevertheless have been just, at any rate to his
brothers and sons. Besides, Moses, trained in all the wisdom of the
Egyptians, either was ignorant of or spurned this art, since, detesting
the error of impiety, he took pains to exterminate it from among God’s
people. Furthermore, St. Daniel learned the studies and wisdom of the
Chaldeans, which, as a saint, he would not have done, had he thought
it sinful to be instructed in their lore. And he had companions in
his education whom he rejoiced to have as comrades in divine law
and justice. For at the same time Ananias, Axarias, Misael learned
whatever a Chaldean would learn.... But notice that the privilege which
man could not confer was given to Daniel alone, to bring to light the
riddles of dreams and to scatter the obscurities of figures....”

Pointing out that Daniel read the king’s thoughts and prophesied “the
mystery of salvation” in addition to interpreting the dream, John then
concludes sarcastically: “Are the interpreters of dreams thus wont to
examine thoughts and remove obscurities, to explain what is involved
and illuminate the darkness of figures? If there is any who enjoys a
like portion of grace, let him join Daniel and Joseph and like them
ascribe to God the glory. He whom the spirit of truth does not illume
vainly puts his confidence in the art of dreams.”[478]

[Sidenote: The witchcraft delusion.]

John concludes that many dreams are the work of demons.[479] Especially
as of this sort he classifies the illusions of those who think that
they have taken part during the night in witches’ Sabbats. “What they
suffer in spirit they most wretchedly and falsely believe to have
occurred in the body.”[480] And such dreams come mainly to women,
feeble-minded men, and those weak in the Christian faith. Too much
stress must not, however, be laid upon this apparent opposition to the
witchcraft delusion.[481] John admits that the demons send dreams, and
if he denies their verity, he merely repeats a hesitation as to the
extent and reality of the power of demons over the body of men and the
world of nature which we have frequently met in patristic literature
and which is due to a natural reluctance to admit that their magic is
as real as God’s miracles.

[Sidenote: Prevalence of astrology.]

From divination by dreams and demons John passes to astrology. To
start with he admits the attraction which the art has for men of
intellect in his own time. “Would,” he exclaims, “that the error of the
_mathematici_ could be as readily removed from enlightened minds as the
works of the demons fade before true faith and a sane consciousness
of their illusions. But in it men go astray with the greater peril in
that they seem to base their error upon nature’s firm foundation and
reason’s strength.”[482] Beginning with mathematical and astronomical
truths based on nature, reason and experience, they gradually slip
into error, submitting human destiny to the stars and pretending to
knowledge which belongs to God alone.

[Sidenote: John’s attack upon it.]

John ridicules the astrologers for attributing sex to the stars and
stating the exact characteristics and influences of each planet, when
they cannot agree among themselves whether the stars are composed of
the four elements or some fifth essence, and when they are confounded
by a schoolboy’s question whether the stars are hard or soft.[483] He
grants that the sun’s heat and the moon’s control of humors as it waxes
and wanes are potent forces, and that the other heavenly bodies are
the causes of many utilities, and that from their position and signs
the weather may be predicted. But he complains that the astrologers
magnify the influence of the stars at the expense of God’s control
of nature and of human free will. “They ascribe everything to their
constellations.” Some have even reached such a degree of madness that
they believe that “an image can be formed in accordance with the
constellations so that it will receive the spirit of life at the nod of
the stars and will reveal the secrets of hidden truth.”[484] Whether
John has some magic automaton or merely an engraved astrological image
in mind is not entirely clear.

[Sidenote: Does astrology imply fatal necessity?]

John is aware, however, that many astrologers will deny that their
science detracts in any way from divine prerogative and power, and
will “appear to themselves to excuse their error quite readily” by
asserting with Plotinus that God foreknew and consequently foredisposed
everything that is to occur, and that the stars are as much under his
control as any part of nature.[485] But John will have none of this
sort of argument. “These hypotheses of theirs are indeed plausible but
nevertheless venom lies under the honey. For they impose on things a
certain fatal necessity under the guise of humility and reverence to
God, fearing lest his intent should perchance alter, if the outcome
of things were not made necessary. Furthermore, they encroach upon
the domain of divine majesty, when they lay claim to that science of
foreseeing times and seasons, which by the Son’s testimony are reserved
to the power of the Father, even to the degree that they were hid from
the eyes of those to whom the Son of God revealed whatever He heard
from the Father.”[486]

John furthermore contends that divine foreknowledge does not require
fatal necessity. For instance, although God knew that Adam would sin,
Adam was under no compulsion to do so. God knew that by his guilt Adam
would bring death into the world, but no condition of nature impelled
him to this; in the beginning man was immortal. At this point John
wanders off into a joust at the Stoics and Epicureans, whom he censures
as equally in error, since the one subjected all to chance, the other
to necessity. It is true, John argues, that I know a stone will fall to
earth if I hurl it skywards, but it “does not act under necessity, for
it might fall or not.” But that it does fall, “though not necessary,
is true.” John presently recognizes that he has given away his previous
argument against astrology and that the devotee of the stars will
say that he does not care whether his predictions are necessary or
not provided they are true. “‘Nor does it make any difference to
me,’ says the devotee of the stars, ‘whether the affair in question
might be otherwise, provided I am not doubtful that it will be (as I

[Sidenote: John’s lame conclusion.]

John accordingly resorts to other arguments and to facetious sarcasm
to cover his confusion. Then he recovers sufficiently to reiterate
his belief that God frequently interferes in the operation of nature
by special providences; and asserts that God has been known to change
His mind, while the astrologers assert that the stars are constant in
their influences. Expressing doubt, however, whether Thomas Becket will
be convinced by his arguments, especially the one concerning fate and
Providence, or whether he will not laugh up his sleeve at such a clumsy
attempt to refute so formidable a doctrine, John lamely concludes by
citing Augustine and Gregory against the art, and by affirming that
every astrologer whom he has known has come to some bad end,[488] in
which assertion he probably simply echoes Tertullian.

[Sidenote: Other varieties of magic.]

Resuming his discussion of the varieties of magic John briefly
dismisses necromancers with the _bon mot_ that those deserve death
who try to acquire knowledge from the dead.[489] A number of other
terms in Isidore’s list--_auspices_, augurs, _salissatores_, _arioli_,
_pythonici_, _aruspices_--he says it is needless to discuss further
since these arts are no longer practiced in his day, or at least
not openly. Turning to more living superstitions of the present, he
explains that chiromancy professes to discern truths which lie hidden
in the wrinkles of the hands, but that since there is no apparent
reason for this belief it is not necessary to contravert it.

[Sidenote: Thomas Becket’s consultation of diviners.]

John wishes to ask Thomas one thing, however, and that is what triflers
of this sort say when they are interrogated concerning uncertain
future matters. He knows that Becket is familiar with such men because
on the occasion of a recent royal expedition against Brittany he
consulted both an aruspex and a chiromancer. John notes that a few days
afterwards Thomas “lost without warning the morning-star so to speak
of your race,” and warns him that such men by their vanity deserve to
be consulted no more. This gentle rebuke did not avail, however, to
wean Thomas entirely from his practice of consulting diviners, which
he continued to do even after he became Archbishop of Canterbury. In a
letter written to the future martyr and saint in 1170 John again chides
Thomas for having delayed certain important letters because he had been
“deluded by soothsayings which were not of the Spirit” and exhorts him
“So let us renounce soothsayings in the future.”[490]

[Sidenote: Witch of Endor: exorcisms.]

Despite his previous declaration that he need not discuss the
_pythonici_, John now proceeds to do so, listing instances of ambiguous
and deceptive Delphic oracles and discussing at length the well-worn
subject of Saul and the witch of Endor. He concludes the chapter by a
warning against abuse of the practice of exorcism: “For such is the
slyness of evil spirits that what they do of their own accord and what
men do at their suggestion, they with great pains disguise so that
they appear to perform it unwillingly. They pretend to be coerced
and simulate to be drawn out as it were by the power of exorcisms,
and that they may be the less guarded against they compose exorcisms
apparently expressed in the name of God or in the faith of the Trinity
or in the power of the incarnation or passion; and they transmit the
same to men and obey men who use these, until they finally involve them
with themselves in the crime of sacrilege and penalty of damnation.
Sometimes they even transform themselves into angels of light, they
teach only things of good repute, forbid unlawful things, strive to
imitate purity, make provision for needs, so that, as if good and
favoring, they are received the more familiarly, are heard the more
kindly, are loved the more closely, are the more readily obeyed. They
also put on the guise of venerable persons....”[491]

[Sidenote: Divination from polished surfaces.]

“The _specularii_,” John continues, “flatter themselves that they
immolate no victims, harm no one, often do good as when they detect
thefts, purge the world of sorceries, and seek only useful or necessary
truth.”[492] He insists that the success of their efforts is none the
less due to demon aid. John tells how as a boy he was handed over
for instruction in the Psalms to a priest who turned out to be a
practitioner of this variety of magic, who after performing various
adjurations and sorceries tried to have John and another boy look
into polished basins or finger-nails smeared with holy oil or chrism
and report what they saw. The other boy saw some ghostly shapes but
John thanks God that he could see nothing and so was not employed
henceforth in this manner. He adds that he has known many _specularii_
and that they have all suffered loss of their sight or some other evil
except the aforesaid priest and a deacon, and that they took refuge
in monasteries and later suffered evils above their fellows in their
respective congregations.

[Sidenote: Natural science and medicine.]

John closes his second book with a chapter on natural scientists
and medical men, for he seems to apply the term _physici_ in both
senses, although towards the close of the chapter he also employs the
word _medici_. He begins by saying that it is permissible to consult
concerning the future anyone who has the spirit of prophecy or who
from scientific training knows by natural signs what will happen in
the bodies of animals, or who “has learned experimentally the nature
of the time impending,” provided only that these latter men say and
do nothing prejudicial to the Christian faith. But sometimes the
_physici_ attribute too much to nature,[493] and John has heard many
of them disputing concerning the soul and its virtues and operations,
the increase and diminution of the body, the resurrection, and the
creation, in a way far from accord with the Christian faith. “Of God
Himself too they sometimes so speak, ‘As if earth-born giants assailed
the stars.’”[494] John recognizes, however, their knowledge of animals
and medicine, although he finds their theories sometimes in conflict.
As for practicing physicians, he dares not speak ill of them, for he
too often falls into their hands, and he grants that no one is more
necessary or useful than a good doctor. John makes considerable use of
the _Natural History_ of Pliny and of Solinus, and sometimes for occult
or marvelous phenomena, as when he cites Pliny concerning men who have
the power of fascination by voice and tongue or by their glances, and
adds the testimony of the Physiognomists.[495]

[Sidenote: Summary.]

It may be well to review and further emphasize some of the chief
features of John’s rather rambling discussion. Despite its frequent
quotations from classic poets and moralists, it is theological in
tone and content to a degree perhaps greater than I have succeeded
in suggesting, for to repeat all its scriptural passages would be
tedious. There is even some theological jealousy and suspicion of
natural science shown. John perhaps more nearly duplicates the attitude
of Augustine than that of any other writer. Magic is represented as
inevitably associated with, and the work of, demons. John sometimes
charges the magic arts with being irrational or injurious, but these
charges are in a way but corollaries of his main thesis. The arts must
be harmful since demons are concerned with them, while the influence
of demons seems the only rational explanation for their existence.
John repeats the old Isidorian definition of magic but he adds some
current superstitions and shows that the magic arts are far from having
fallen into disuse. Finally he shows us how vain must have been all
the ecclesiastical thunders and warnings of demons and damnation,
like his own, directed against magic, from the fact that not merely
kings of the past like Saul and Pharaoh, but clergy of the present
themselves--a priest and a deacon, a chancellor and an archbishop
of England--practice or patronize such arts. Sometimes John’s own
condemnation of them seems a bit perfunctory; he takes more relish, it
seems at times, in describing them. Again, as in the case of astrology,
he evidently feels that his opposition will be of little avail.


[461] _Johannis Sarisberiensis Episcopi Carnotensis Policratici sive
de nugis curialium et vestigiis philosophorum libri VIII._ Recog. C.
C. I. Webb. 2 vols. Oxford, 1909. The work is also contained in Migne,
PL vol. 199. For John’s life see DNB. All references are to book and
chapter of the _Polycraticus_ unless otherwise stated.

[462] The most recent discussion of it is by R. L. Poole, “The Masters
of the Schools at Paris and Chartres in John of Salisbury’s Time,” in
EHR XXXV (1920), 321-42.

[463] _Metalog._ II, 10.

[464] I, 9.

[465] At II, 18 he makes the same distinction.

[466] For Isidore’s account see PL 82, 310-14.

[467] _Polycrat_. II, prologus. “Alacres itaque exeant nugae nostrae
quas serenitas tua prodire iubet in publicum, ut conjectores,
mathematicos, cum quibusdam aliis nugatoribus introducant; quia quibus
dedisti egrediendi audaciam, securitatis quoque fiduciam praestabis.”
The following words, “Connectantur ergo inferiora superioribus” seem to
mean that the second book goes on where the first left off, but perhaps
the suggestion of astrological doctrine is an intentional play upon
words on John’s part.

[468] II, 12.

[469] _De doctrina Christiana_, II, 20 in Migne, PL vol. 34.

[470] Thus, it will be recalled, Marcellus Empiricus and Alexander of
Tralles labelled their superstitious recipes.

[471] “Capitula Evangelii.”

[472] II, 11.

[473] II, 12.

[474] II, 14-17.

[475] II, 14. Quis nescit somniorum varias esse significationes, quas
et usus approbat et maiorum confirmat auctoritas.

[476] II, 15. Somnium ... gerit imagines, in quibus coniectorum
praecipue disciplina versatur, et nunc suum cuiusque est, nunc alienum,
modo commune, interdum publice aut generale est. Ut enim ait Nestor, de
statu publico regis credatur somnio.

[477] II, 17. Sed dum has coniectorum traditiones ex(s)equimur, vereor
ne merito non tam coniectoriam ex(s)equi, quae aut nulla aut inania
ars est, quam dormitare videamur ... Verum quisquis credulitatem suam
significationibus alligat somniorum, planum est quia tam a sinceritate
fidei quam a tramite rationis exorbitat.

[478] _Polycrat._ II, 17. Gratian appears to refer to the same book on
oneiromancy in his _Decretum_, Secunda pars, Causa XXVI, Quaest. vii,
cap. 16, “somnialia scripta et falso in Danielis nomine intitulata.”

[479] II, 17 (Webb I, 100). Quis huius facti explicet rationem nisi
quod boni spiritus vel maligni exigentibus hominum meritis eos erudiunt
vel illudunt?... Quod si materiam vitiis afferat, libidinem forte
accendens aut avaritiam aut dominandi ingerens appetitum aut quidquid
huiusmodi est ad subversionem animae, procul dubio aut caro aut
spiritus malignus immittit.

[480] II, 17 (Migne, col. 436), Webb I, 100-1.

[481] John is perhaps influenced by a similar passage in the Canon, _Ut
episcopi_ (Burchard, _Decreta_, X, 1).

[482] II, 18. Possit utinam tam facile mathematicorum error a
praestantioribus animis amoveri quam leviter in conspectu verae
fidei et sanae conscientiae istarum illusionum demonia conquiescunt.
Verumtamen eo periculosius errant quo in soliditate naturae et vigore
rationis suum fundare videntur errorem.

[483] II, 19.

[484] II, 19 (Migne, col. 442). Webb, I, 112. ... stellarum nutu
recipiet spiritum vitae et consulentibus occultae veritatis
manifestabit arcana.

[485] II, 19.

[486] II, 20.

[487] Cap. 24, nec mea, inquit astrorum secretarius, interest an aliter
esse possit, dum id de quo agitur ita futurum esse non dubitem.

[488] John’s argument against astrology extends from the 18th to the
26th chapter of the second book of the _Polycraticus_.

[489] II, 27.

[490] _Epistola_ 297 (Migne, cols. 345-46).

[491] II, 27; Webb, I, 155-56.

[492] II, 28.

[493] II, 29 (Migne, col. 475). Licet tamen ut de futuris aliquis
consulatur, ita quidem si aut spiritu polleat prophetiae, aut ex
naturalibus signis quid in corporibus animalium eveniat physica
docente cognovit, aut si qualitatem temporis imminentis experimentorum
indiciis colligit. Dum tamen his posterioribus nequaquam quis ita aurem
accommodet ut fidei aut religioni praejudicet.... At physici, dum
naturae nimium auctoritatis attribuunt, in auctorem naturae adversando
fidei plerumque impingunt.

[494] Webb, I, xxxiii and xxxv.

[495] V, 15 (Webb, I, 345).



 Daniel’s education--(Bibliographical note)--Defense
 of Arabian learning--A moderate treatment of moot
 points between science and religion--The four elements
 and fifth essence--Superiors and inferiors--Daniel’s
 astronomy--Astrological argument--Astrology and other
 sciences--Daniel and Greek: a misinterpretation--Daniel
 and the church: a misinterpretation--Daniel’s future
 influence--Roger of Hereford--An astrology in four
 parts--Another astrology in four parts--_Book of Three
 General Judgments_--Summary.

[Sidenote: Daniel’s education.]

In discussing Gerard of Cremona in a previous chapter we noticed the
studies at Toledo of Daniel _de Merlai_ or of Morley, how he heard
Gerard translate the _Almagest_ into Latin and defend the fatal
influence of the stars, and Galippus, the Mozarab, teach concerning
the universe in “the tongue of Toledo,”--presumably Spanish. Like
Adelard of Bath, Daniel had long absented himself from England in the
pursuit of learning, and had first spent some time at Paris, apparently
engaged in the study of Roman law. He became disgusted, however, with
the instruction there and in his preface[496] speaks sarcastically of
“the brutes” (_bestiales_) who occupied professorial chairs “with grave
authority” and read from codices too heavy to carry (_importabiles_)
which reproduced in golden letters the traditions of Ulpian. Holding
lead pencils in their hands, they marked these volumes reverently
with obeli and asterisks. They wished to conceal their ignorance by
maintaining a dignified and statuesque silence, “but when they tried
to say something, I found them most childish.” Daniel accordingly made
haste away to Spain to acquire the learning of the Arabs and to hear
“wiser philosophers of the universe.” Finally, however, his friends
summoned him back to England and he returned “with an abundant supply
of precious volumes.” On his arrival he found that the interest in
Roman law had almost completely eclipsed that in Greek philosophy, and
that Aristotle and Plato were assigned to oblivion. Not wishing to
remain the sole Greek among Romans, he prepared to withdraw again where
the studies in which he was interested flourished. But on the way he
met John, bishop of Norwich (1175-1200) who asked him many questions
concerning his studies at Toledo and the marvels of that city, and
concerning astronomy and the rule of the superior bodies over this
sublunar world. Daniel’s present treatise gives a fuller reply to these
inquiries than time then permitted him to make.

 In the following bibliographical note the MSS will be listed
 first and then the printed works by or concerning Daniel of

 Arundel 377, 13th century, well-written small quarto, fols.
 88-103, “Philosophia magistri danielis de merlai ad iohannem
 Norwicensem episcopum ... / ... Explicit liber de naturis
 inferiorum et superiorum.” Until very recently this was
 supposed to be the only MS of Daniel’s sole extant work.
 No other treatise has as yet been identified as his, but
 several other MSS may be noted of the whole or parts of the
 aforesaid “Philosophia” or “Liber de naturis inferiorum et

 Corpus Christi 95, 13th century, where, according to K.
 Sudhoff in the publication noted below, the first two or
 three books ascribed to William of Conches are really the
 work of Daniel of Morley.

 Berlin Latin Quarto 387, 12th century, 51 fols. Attention
 was called to it by Birkenmajer in the publication noted
 below. It has many slips of copyists and is regarded by him
 as neither the original nor a direct copy thereof. For the
 MS to be written in the twelfth century this would require
 a very rapid multiplication and dissemination of Daniel’s
 treatise which was at the earliest not composed until after

 The remaining MSS have not hitherto been noted by writers on

 CUL 1935 (Kk. I. 1), 13th century, small folio, fols.
 98r-105r (and not to 115r, as stated in the MSS catalogue,
 which gives Daniel Morley as the author, but _De creatione
 mundi_ as the title). From rotographs of fols. 98r-v, 100r,
 and 105r, I judge that this copy is almost identical with
 Arundel 377 but somewhat less legible and accurate.

 Oriel 7, 14th century folio, fols. 194v-196v (191-193,
 according to Coxe), extracts from _De philosophia Danielis_,
 opening, “Nos qui mistice.”... They are immediately preceded
 by extracts from “Adelardi Bathoniensis ... de decisionibus

 Corpus Christi 263, early 17thI’ll sp century, fols.
 166v-67r, “Ex Daniele de Merlai” (or, “Merlac,” according to
 Coxe) “alias Morley in lib. de superioribus et inferioribus
 primo De creationis Mundi.” This MS is one of the notebooks
 of Brian Twyne, the Elizabethan antiquary, written in his
 own hand.

 Twyne perhaps made his extracts from Arundel 377, for
 immediately after them he gives extracts “from William of
 Conches who is together with Daniel Merlai in our library,”
 and in Arundel 377 Daniel’s work is immediately followed
 by that of William of Conches. Moreover, of the Selden MSS
 which are now in the Bodleian, Supra 72 was once owned by
 Lord “William Howarde” who died in 1640, while Supra 77 is
 marked “Arundel,” referring presumably to Thomas Howard,
 Earl of Arundel, who died in 1646, and Supra 79 consists
 of astronomical and astrological treatises copied by Brian
 Twyne. If MSS which once belonged to the Arundel collection
 and to Twyne have thus passed somehow into the Selden
 collection and are found listed there in close proximity to
 one another, it is at least tempting to conjecture that the
 MS containing Daniel’s treatise, followed by that of William
 of Conches, which Twyne says was once “in our library,”
 somehow became Arundel 377.

 BN 6415 does not contain _De philosophia Danielis_, as
 stated by C. Jourdain (1838) p. 101; Jourdain, however,
 regarded Adelard of Bath as the author of _De philosophia
 Danielis_, and BN 6415 does contain Adelard’s _Questiones

 Balliol 96, 15th century, a commentary upon Aristotle’s
 eight books of Physics in the form of questions and preceded
 by a prologue, “Expliciunt questiones super 8 libros
 phisicorum compilate a domino Marlo magistro in artibus
 Tholose ac canonico de Timsey.” This does not seem to be a
 work by Daniel of Morley; a cursory examination revealed no
 reason for thinking that _domino Marlo_ should read _Daniele
 Merlai_, or that _Tholose_ should be _Tholeto_.

 I have not examined two MSS at Queen’s College, Oxford, Reg.
 lxxi; lxxiv, 4) containing pedigrees of the Morlay or Morley
 family which may possibly throw some light upon Daniel’s

 All the printing that has been done of Daniel’s treatise
 has been based upon Arundel 377. J. O. Halliwell, _Rara
 Mathematica_, 1839, and Thomas Wright, _Biographia
 Literaria_, London, 1846, II, 227-30, printed the preface
 and other brief extracts for the first time.

 Valentin Rose reprinted the preface and also published
 the conclusion in his article, “Ptolemaeus und die Schule
 von Toledo,” _Hermes_ VIII (1874) 327-49. Rose also gave
 a list of the authorities cited by Daniel which makes a
 very large number of omissions: for example, fol. 89r,
 “sicut in trismegisto repperitur” and “isidori”; fol. 90v,
 Aristotle, “philosophus,” “Adultimus” (?), “Platonitus”;
 fol. 91r, “Esiodus autem naturalis scientie professor omnia
 dixit esse ex terra,” and so on for “tales milesius,”
 Democritus, and other Greek philosophers; fol. 91v, “sicut
 ab inexpugnabili sententia magni hermetis”; fol. 92r,
 “audiat ysidori in libro differentiarum”; fol. 92v, “unde
 astrologus ille poeta de creatione mundi ait,” and “magnus
 mercurius” and “trismegistus mercurius” and “trismegistus
 mercurius praedicti mercurii nepos”; fol. 97r, “Aristotelis
 in libro de sensu et sensato,” “Albumaxar,” “Aristotelis
 in libro de auditu naturali”; fol. 98v, “in libro de celi
 et mundo”; fol. 99v, Almagest, and “Ypocrati et galieno”;
 fol. 100v, “liber veneris ... quem edidit thoz grecus,” and
 “aristoteles ... in libro de speculo adurenti.”

 Karl Sudhoff, _Daniels von Morley Liber de naturis
 inferiorum et superiorum nach der Handschrift Cod. Arundel
 377 des Britischen Museums zum Abdruck gebracht_, in
 _Archiv für die Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der
 Technik_, Band 8, 1917 (but not received at the New York
 Public Library until July 8, 1921). Here is printed for the
 first time the full text of Daniel’s treatise as contained
 in Arundel 377, but from photographs taken years before
 and apparently without further reference to the MS itself.
 Also according to the following article by Birkenmajer,
 Sudhoff sometimes renders the contractions and abbreviations
 incorrectly. As Sudhoff’s text comes late to my hand, I
 leave my references to the folios of Arundel 377 as they
 are. These folios (with the exception of 88v) are marked in
 Sudhoff’s text.

 Alexander Birkenmajer, _Eine neue Handschrift des Liber de
 naturis inferiorum et superiorum des Daniel von Merlai_, in
 the same _Archiv_, December, 1920, pp. 45-51, gives some
 variant readings from Berlin 387.

 Dr. Charles Singer has published a brief account of Daniel
 of Morley in a recent issue of _Isis_.

 The article on Daniel in DNB XXXIX (1894) by A. F. Pollard
 is criticized by Sudhoff for failing to mention “Roses
 wichtigste Vorarbeit;” but I observe that Sudhoff himself
 similarly fails to mention the publications by Halliwell and
 Thomas Wright which preceded both Rose’s and his own.

[Sidenote: Defense of Arabian learning.]

Daniel warns his readers at the start not to scorn the simple language
and lucid style in which the doctrines of the Arabs are set forth, or
to mistake the laborious circumlocutions and ambiguous obscurities of
contemporary Latins for signs of profound learning. Nor should anyone
be alarmed because he presents the opinions of Gentile philosophers
instead of church fathers in treating of the creation of the world.
They may not have been Christians, but where their opinions seem
sound, Daniel believes in taking spoils of learning even from pagans
and infidels, as God instructed the Hebrews to do in the case of the
golden and silver vessels of the Egyptians. Thus he borrows the theory
of a triple universe from an Arabic work. The first universe exists
only in the divine mind and is neither visible nor corporeal, but is
eternal. The second universe is in work and is visible, corporeal, and
in that state not eternal. It was created simultaneously with time.
The third universe is imitative. It is the microcosm and was formed in
time and is visible and corporeal, but is in part eternal.[497] In a
later passage[498] Daniel again defends his use of Arabian authorities,
contending that it is only just that one who is already informed
concerning the opinions about things supercelestial of the philosophers
in use among the Latins should also not disdain to listen attentively
to the views of the Arabs which cannot be impugned. It may be perilous
to imitate them in some respects, but one should be informed even on
such points in order to be able to refute and avoid the errors to which
they lead.

[Sidenote: A moderate treatment of moot points between science and

In general plan, tone, and content, as well as in the title,
_Philosophia_, Daniel’s treatise roughly resembles that of William of
Conches. As Daniel says in his preface, the first part deals with the
inferior portion of the universe, and the second part with the superior
part. The work proper opens with a discussion of the creation, in which
Daniel expresses some rather original ideas, although he treats of such
time-worn topics as God’s creation of the angels, of the universe, and
of man in His own image, and then of man’s fall through concupiscence,
virtue and vice, and like matters. Later he argues against those who
hold that the world is eternal, but he is not quite ready to accept the
Mosaic account of creation entire. He argues that in the beginning God
created heaven and earth and cites Augustine, Isidore, and Bede to show
that the meaning is that heaven and earth were created simultaneously.
He then adds that philosophers are loath to accept the division of the
works of creation over six days; in human works it is true that one
thing must be done before another, but God could dispense everything
with “one eternal word.”[499]

[Sidenote: The four elements and fifth essence.]

The four elements are discussed a good deal and it is explained that
fire is hot and dry, air is hot and wet, and so on.[500] To fire
correspond cholera, the light of the eyes, and curiosity; to air,
blood, words, and loquacity; to water, phlegm, abundance of natural
humors, and lust; to earth, melancholy, corpulence, and cruelty.[501]
Daniel, like Adelard of Bath and William of Conches, repeats the
doctrine that the four elements are not found in a pure state in any
bodies perceptible to our sense, that no one has ever touched earth
or water, or seen pure air or fire, and that the four elements are
perceptible only to the intellect. Daniel differs from Adelard and
William, however, in denying that the stars are made merely out of the
purer parts of the four elements. He declares that the Arabs will not
agree to this, but that the higher authorities in astrology assert that
the stars are composed of a fifth essence.[502] Daniel furthermore
speaks of three bonds existing between the four elements, stating that
scientists call the relation between fire and air, obedience; that
between air and water, harmony; and that between water and earth,
necessity.[503] This faintly reminds one of the three relationships
between the four principles of things which were associated with the
names of the three fates in the essay on fate ascribed to Plutarch.

[Sidenote: Superiors and inferiors.]

But the greatest bond in nature is that existing between the superior
and inferior worlds. An oft-repeated and fundamental principle of
Daniel’s philosophy, and one which explains the division of his work
into two parts, is the doctrine that superiors conquer inferiors, that
the world of the sky controls the world of the four elements, and that
the science of the stars is superior to all other disciplines.[504]
“The sages of this world have divided the world into two parts, of
which the superior one which extends from the circle of the moon even
to the immovable heaven is the agent. The other, from the lunar globe
downwards, is the patient.”[505] Much depends, however, not only upon
the force emitted by the agent but upon the readiness of the patient to
receive the celestial influence.

[Sidenote: Daniel’s astronomy.]

Daniel of course believed in a spherical earth and a geocentric
universe. Influenced probably by the _Almagest_, he explains the
eccentrics of the five planets in a way which he regards as superior to
what he calls the errors of Martianus Capella and almost all Latins,
and to the obscure traditions which the Arabs have handed down but
scarcely understood themselves.[506] He affirms that there are not ten
heavens or spheres, as some have said, but only eight, as Alphraganus
truly teaches.[507]

[Sidenote: Astrological argument.]

There are some men who deny any efficacy to the motions of the stars,
but Daniel charges that they for the most part condemn the science
without knowing anything about it, “and hold astronomy in hatred from
its name alone.”[508] He replies that it is useful to foreknow the
future and defends astrology in much the usual manner. He details the
qualities of the seven planets[509] whom the Arabs call “lords of
nativities.”[510] Also he takes up the properties and attributes of the
signs of the zodiac and how the Arabs divide the parts of the human
body among them.[511]

[Sidenote: Astrology and other sciences.]

Daniel interprets the scope of astrology very broadly, asserting
that it has eight parts: the science of judgments, or what we should
call judicial astrology; medicine; nigromancy according to physics;
agriculture; illusions or magic (_de praestigiis_); alchemy, “which
is the science of the transmutation of metals into other species;
the science of images, which Thoz Grecus set forth in the great and
universal book of Venus; and the science of mirrors, which is of
broader scope and aim than the rest, as Aristotle shows in the treatise
on the burning glass.”[512] Except that magic illusions have replaced
navigation, this list of eight branches of learning is the same as
that which Gundissalinus repeated from Al-Farabi, but which they
called branches of natural science rather than of astrology. At any
rate we see again the close association of natural science and useful
arts with astrology and magic, and necromancy and alchemy, and with
pseudo-writings of Aristotle and Hermes Trismegistus. In other passages
Daniel cites genuine Aristotelian treatises[513] and speaks of “the
great Mercury” and of the other “Mercury Trismegistus, the nephew of
the aforesaid.”[514] Despite his subordination of alchemy to astrology
in the above passage, Daniel does not seem to have it in mind when he
remarks that there are “some who assign diverse colors of metals to the
planets,” as lead to Saturn, silver to Jupiter, white to Venus, and
black to Mercury.[515] He goes on to deny that the stars are really
colored any more than the sky is.

[Sidenote: Daniel and Greek: a misinterpretation.]

Some modern scholars have drawn inferences from Daniel’s treatise
with which I am unable to agree. Mr. S. A. Hirsch in his edition of
Roger Bacon’s Greek Grammar follows Cardinal Gasquet[516] in observing
concerning Daniel’s preface, “There can be no clearer testimony than
this to the complete oblivion into which Greek had in those days fallen
in western Europe, including England.” It may be granted that there was
and had been little knowledge of Greek grammar and the Greek language
in twelfth century England, but that is not what Daniel is talking
about: indeed, there seems to be no reason for believing Daniel himself
proficient in either Greek grammar or Greek literature, although he was
shrewd enough to question whether Chalcidius always interpreted Plato
aright.[517] When he calls himself “the only Greek among Romans,” he
means the only one interested in Greek philosophy and astronomy and in
translations of the same made largely from the Arabic. But earlier in
the same century we have seen Adelard of Bath, William of Conches, and
Bernard Silvester interested either in Platonism or Arabic science,
and the anonymous Sicilian translator of the Almagest from the Greek,
and before him Burgundio of Pisa and other translators from the Greek.
Therefore all that Daniel’s remarks seems to indicate is that there
was less interest in Greek philosophy in England after his return than
before he went away, owing to the temporary popularity of the study of
Roman law. But he knew where the studies in which he was interested
still flourished.

[Sidenote: Daniel and the church: a misinterpretation.]

A more serious misinterpretation of Daniel’s relation to his age is
Valentin Rose’s assertion that, because of Daniel’s addiction to
Arabian and astrological doctrines, “his book found no favor in the
eyes of the church and was shunned like poison. It has left no traces
in subsequent literature; no one has read it and no one cites it.”[518]
Rose spoke on the assumption that only one copy of Daniel’s treatise
had reached us, whereas now we know of several manuscripts of it. If it
did not become so widely known as some works, the more probable reason
for this may well be that his brief résumé of Arabic and astrological
doctrines appeared too late, when the fuller works of Ptolemy and of
the Arabic astrologers were already becoming known through complete
Latin translations. Brief pioneer treatises, like those of Adelard
of Bath and William of Conches, which had appeared earlier in the
century, had had time to become widely known during a period when
there was perhaps nothing fuller and better available. But Daniel’s
little trickle of learning from Toledo, which does not represent any
very considerable advance over Adelard and William, might well be
engulfed in the great stream of translations that now poured from Spain
into Christian western Europe.[519] It is unreasonable to conjecture
that Daniel’s book, which is rather mild anyway in its astrological
doctrine, and which was called forth by the favoring questions of a
bishop, was then crushed by bitter ecclesiastical opposition; when we
know that William’s book, which actually encountered an ecclesiastical
opposition of which we have no evidence in Daniel’s case, nevertheless
continued in circulation and was much cited in the next century; and
when we know that both Arabic and astrological doctrines and books
were widespread in Christian western Europe both in the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries. Treatises with more poison of astrology in them
than his were read and cited and seem to have weathered successfully,
if not to have escaped unscathed, whatever ecclesiastical censure may
have been directed against them. If Daniel’s own composition did not
secure a wide circle of readers, the chances are that “the multitude
of precious volumes” which he imported from Spain to England did. And
if the work of the pupil remained little cited, the translations of
the master, Gerard of Cremona, who had taught him astrology at Toledo,
became known throughout western Europe. Thus, while Daniel’s personal
influence may not have been vast, he reflects for us the progress of a
great movement of which he was but a part.

[Sidenote: Daniel’s future influence.]

But Rose was further mistaken in his assertion that Daniel’s _De
philosophia_ “has left no trace in subsequent literature; no one has
read it and no one cites it.” Not only is the work found complete
in three manuscripts of which Rose did not know, and of which one
appears to be twice removed from the original. In a manuscript of
the fourteenth century at Oriel College, Oxford,[520] in the fitting
company of excerpts from Adelard of Bath and Gundissalinus, are
over three double column folio pages of extracts drawn from various
portions of the _Philosophia_. These begin with Daniel’s excuse for
borrowing the eloquence and wisdom of the infidels and with some of his
utterances anent the creation of the world. They include a number of
his citations of other writers, his story of the two fountains outside
the walls of Toledo which varied in fulness with the moon’s phases and
contained salt water although remote six days journey from the sea,
and other bits of his astrological doctrine. A similar, although not
identical, selection of pearls from Daniel’s philosophy is found in one
of the notebooks of Brian Twyne,[521] the Elizabethan antiquary, who
gives the title of Daniel’s work as _De superioribus et inferioribus_
and makes extracts both from its first and second books. Both Twyne and
the Oriel manuscript’s writer seem to have been particularly impressed
with Daniel’s views concerning the creation, rather than his retailing
of astrological doctrine. Twyne first repeats his statement that the
quantity of the universe reveals the power of its Maker; its quality,
His wisdom; and its marvelous beauty, His unbounded good will. Twyne
also notes Daniel’s phrase, “court of the world,” for the universe.
Both Twyne and the Oriel manuscript note the passage concerning the
triple universe, and another in which Daniel tells how the three human
qualities, reason, irascibility, and desire, may be either used to
discern and resist evil, or perverted to evil courses. Both also notice
his contention that the chaos preceding creation was not _hyle_ or
matter but a certain contrariety present in matter.

[Sidenote: Roger of Hereford.]

In the same manuscript with Daniel’s treatise is a work by another
Englishman, Roger of Hereford,[522] who was contemporary with him, who
wrote treatises both in astronomy and astrology, and who, again like
Daniel, was encouraged by a bishop. We are not, I believe, directly
informed whether any of his works were translations from the Arabic or
whether he was ever in Spain, but some of them sound as if they might
be at least adaptations from the Arabic. At any rate Alfred of England
dedicated to Roger the translation which he made from the Arabic of the
pseudo-Aristotelian _De vegetabilibus_. Astronomical tables which Roger
calculated for the meridian of Hereford in 1178 are based upon tables
for Marseilles and Toledo, and the manuscript of one of his works is
said by the copyist of 1476 to have been taken by him from an ancient
codex written in Toledo in the year 1247.[523] Other astronomical
treatises attributed to Roger are a _Theory of the Planets, a Treatise
concerning the rising and setting of the Signs_, and a _Compotus_ which
dates itself in 1176 and is addressed to a Gilbert[524] who seems to
be no other than Foliot, bishop of Hereford until 1163 and thereafter
bishop of London. The signature of Roger of Hereford attests one of his
documents in 1173-1174. In 1176 in the preface to the _Compotus_[525]
Roger speaks of himself as _iuvenis_, and the heading in the manuscript
even calls him “Child Roger” or “Roger Child,”[526] but he also says
that he has devoted many years to learning, so that we need not regard
him as especially youthful at that time. The definite dates in his
career seem to fall in the decade from 1170 to 1180, although his
association with Alfred of England may well have been later.

[Sidenote: An astrology in four parts.]

Professor Haskins ascribes one or more astrological works to Roger
of Hereford and lists a number of manuscripts with three different
_Incipits_.[527] Some of these manuscripts I have examined. One at
Paris has the _Titulus_, “In the name of God the pious and merciful,
here opens the book of the division of astronomy and its four parts
composed by the famous astrologer Roger of Hereford.”[528] Roger
explains that the first part is general and concerned with such
matters as “peoples, events, and states, changes of weather, famine,
and mortality.” The second is special and deals with the fate of
the individual from birth to life’s close. The third deals with
interrogations and the fourth with elections. The first chapter of the
first part is entitled, “Of the properties of the signs and planets
in any country,” and opens with the statement that it has been proved
by experience that the signs Aries and Jupiter have dominion in the
land “baldac and babel and herach,” Libra and Saturn in the land of
the Christians, Scorpion and Venus in the land of the Arabs, Capricorn
and Mercury in India, Leo and Mars over the Turks, Aquarius and the
Sun in Babylonia, Virgo and the Moon in Spain. The other five signs
seem to be left without a country.[529] Chapter two tells how to find
what sign dominates in any villa; three, of the powers of the planets
in universal events; four, of the science of the annual significance
of the planets; five, knowledge of rains for the four seasons; six,
knowledge of winds in any villa;[530] nine, the twenty-eight mansions
of the moon. After the tenth chapter distinguishing these mansions as
dry and wet and temperate, the second part on nativities opens with
the retrospective statement, “Now we have treated of the first part of
this art, omitting what many astrologers have said without experience
and without reason.”[531] After a dozen chapters on the significance
of the twelve houses in nativities, the author again asserts that in
his discussion of that subject he has said nothing except what learned
men agree upon and experience has tested.[532] After devoting three
chapters to the familiar astrological theme of the revolution of years,
he takes up in the third and fourth books[533] interrogations according
to the twelve houses and elections, which are made in two ways
according as the nativity is or is not known. The invocation of God the
pious and compassionate in the _Titulus_ and the list of countries and
peoples in the first chapter have a Mohammedan and oriental flavor and
suggest that the work is a translation.

[Sidenote: Another astrology in four parts.]

Different from the foregoing is another work dealing with four parts of
judicial astrology which the manuscripts ascribe to Roger of Hereford.
Its opening words[534] and the subjects of its four parts all differ
from those of the other treatise. Its first part deals with “simple
judgment”; its fourth part, with “the reason of judgment”; while
its second and third parts instead of third and fourth, as in the
foregoing treatise, deal with interrogations, now called _Cogitatio_,
and elections.[535] I know of no manuscript where this second work
is to be found complete; in fact, I am inclined to surmise that
usually the manuscripts give only the first of its four parts.[536] It
professes at the start to be a brief collection of rules of judicial
astrology hitherto only to be found scattered through various works.
Astrology is extolled as an art of incomparable excellence without
which other branches of learning are fruitless. “They appear to a few
through experiments; ... it gives most certain experiments.”[537] The
first book treats of the properties of the signs and planets, of the
twelve houses, and defines a long list of astrological terms such as
_respectus_, _applicatio_, _separatio_, _periclitus_, _solitudo_,
_allevatio_, _translatio_, _collatio_, _redditio_, _contradictio_,
_impeditio_, _evasio_, _interruptio_, _compassio_, _renuntiatio_, and
_receptio_.[538] Some tables are also given, in connection with one
of which we are told that the longest hour at Hereford exceeds the
shortest by eleven degrees and forty minutes.[539]

[Sidenote: _Book of Three General Judgments._]

To Roger is also ascribed a _Book of Three General Judgments of
Astronomy, from which all others flow_, which sometimes is listed
separately in the manuscripts and apparently is found alone as a
distinct work,[540] but in other manuscripts[541] seems to be an
integral part of the work of four parts which we have just described.
Its three general judgments are: gaining honors and escaping evils;
_intentio vel meditacio_, which, like the _cogitacio_ mentioned above,
refers to interrogations; and _comparatio vel electio_ which of
course is elections. Thus the second and third parts of this _Book of
Three General Judgments_ deal with the same subjects as the second
and third books of the work in four parts, which makes it difficult
to distinguish them. I am inclined to think that in those manuscripts
where the _Book of Three General Judgments_ seems an integral part
of the work in four parts, we really have simply the first of the
four parts, followed by the _Book of Three General Judgments_.[542]
At any rate it seems clear that most of Roger’s astrological
composition is on the theme of interrogations and elections. _Iudicia
Herefordensis_,[543] found in more than one manuscript, may come from a
fourth work of his or be portions of the foregoing works.

[Sidenote: Summary.]

In this chapter we have treated of two Englishmen of the latter half
of the twelfth century who are not generally known.[544] They were
not, however, without influence, as we have already shown in the case
of Daniel of Morley and as the number of manuscripts of the works of
Roger of Hereford sufficiently attests for him. Daniel and Roger show
that the same interest in astrology and astronomy from Arabic sources
prevails at the close of the century in England as at its beginning in
the cases of Walcher, prior of Malvern, and Adelard of Bath. Daniel,
like Adelard, illustrates the relation of science to Christian thought;
Roger, like Walcher, is an astronomer who makes and carefully records
observations of his own,[545] while he trusts in astrology as based
upon experience. As Alfred of England dedicated his translation of the
pseudo-Aristotelian _De vegetabilibus_ to Roger, so he dedicated his
_De motu cordis_ (_On the Motion of the Heart_) to a third Englishman,
Alexander Neckam, to whom we turn in the next chapter for a picture
of the state of science and his work _On the Natures of Things_ (_De
naturis rerum_) in his time.


[496] Fol. 88r.

[497] Fols. 88v-89r.

[498] Fol. 95v.

[499] Fol. 96.

[500] Fol. 94v.

[501] Fol. 89v.

[502] Fol. 95v.

[503] Fol. 93v.

[504] Fols. 95r-96.

[505] Fol. 92r.

[506] Fol. 101v.

[507] Fol. 100v.

[508] _Idem._

[509] Fol. 99v.

[510] Fol. 102v.

[511] Fol. 102r.

[512] Fol. 100v.

[513] _De sensu et sensato_ at fols. 97r and 98v; _De coelo et mundo_,
_ibid._; _De auditu naturali_, fol. 97r. I do not know if Al-Farabi’s
_De ortu scientiarum_ is meant by (fol. 96r) “Aristotiles in libro de
assignanda ratione unde orte sunt scientie.”

[514] Fols. 92v, 91v, and 89r.

[515] Fol. 99r.

[516] Edmund Nolan and S. A. Hirsch, _The Greek Grammar of Roger
Bacon_, Cambridge, 1902, p. xlvii. Gasquet, “English Scholarship in the
Thirteenth Century,” and “English Biblical Criticism in the Thirteenth
Century,” in _The Dublin Review_ (1898), vol. 123, pp. 7 and 362.

[517] Fol. 89v, “Calcidius, forte minus provide exponens Platonem,
dixit....” We have so often been assured that the Middle Ages knew
Plato only through Chalcidius’ translation of the _Timaeus_ that I
think it advisable to note this bit of evidence that the medievals did
not swallow their Chalcidius whole.

[518] Rose (1874), p. 331. Sudhoff (1917), p. 4, although himself
calling attention to a second manuscript of Daniel’s treatise,
continues to hold that it “scheint wenig Verbreitung gefunden zu haben.”

[519] Sudhoff (1917), p. 4, expresses a similar opinion. He still,
however, repeats with respect Rose’s assertion that the treatise “wie
ein Gift beseitigt worden,” but would explain this as less due to
Daniel’s astrological doctrine than his employing Arabian authorities
instead of the church fathers.

[520] Oriel 7, fols. 194v-96v: see bibliographical note at beginning
of this chapter for a fuller description of it and the following MS of
Brian Twyne.

[521] Corpus Christi 263, fols. 166-7.

[522] Professor Haskins’ account of Roger’s life and works in his
“Introduction of Arabic Science into England,” EHR (1915), XXX, 65-8,
supplements and supersedes the article in DNB. Where I do not cite
authorities for statements that follow in the text, they may be found
in Haskins’ article.

[523] BN 10271, fol. 203v, quoted by Haskins (1915), p. 67. It seems to
me, however, from an examination of the MS that Roger’s work concludes
at fol. 201v, “Explicit liber,” and that this extract, “Ad habendam
noticiam quis est vel erit dominus anni,” at fol. 203v, may be another

[524] The initial letters of the table of contents form the acrostic,
“Gilleberto Rogerus salutes H. D.”

[525] Printed in part by T. Wright, _Biograph. Lit._, p. 90 _et seq._

[526] Digby 40, fol. 65, “Prefatio magistri Rogeri Infantis in
compotum”; Haskins conjectures that _Infantis_ may be a corruption for
Hereford, or an equivalent for the _iuvenis_ of the text; but Leland
took it as Roger’s surname and called him Roger Yonge.

[527] Haskins is not quite accurate in saying (p. 67), “Royal MS 12
F, 17 of the British Museum, catalogued as ‘Herefordensis iudicia’ is
really the treatise of Haly, _De iudiciis_,” for while the MS does
contain Egidius de Tebaldis’ translation of _Haly de iudiciis_ in a
fourteenth century hand, on its fly-leaves are inserted in a fifteenth
century hand both “iudicia Herfordensis” and a treatise on conjunctions
of John Eschenden. Moreover, all these items are listed both in the old
and the new catalogue of the Royal MSS.

[528] BN 10271, written in 1476, 1481 A. D., etc., fol. 179-, “In
nomine dei pii et misericordis Incipit liber de divisione astronomie
atque de eius quatuor partibus compositus per clarum Rogerium Herfort
Astrologum.” The text proper opens: “Quoniam principium huic arti
dignum duximus de quatuor eius partibus agamus.”

[529] This chapter is almost exactly like the first chapter of the
first book of the printed edition of John of Seville’s _Epitome totius
astrologiae_, and the general plan of the two treatises and their
emphasis upon experience are very similar, although there also seem
to be considerable divergences. For instance, the next chapter in the
printed text is different, “De coniunctionibus planetarum, quae sunt
numero c.xx.” Unfortunately I have not been able to compare edition and
manuscript in detail. Both may represent texts of late date which have
rearranged or added variously to the original, whether it be by John or
Roger. Or both John and Roger may have taken similar liberties with a
common Arabic source. John’s authorship appears to be supported by more
MSS than Roger’s.

[530] Caps. 7 and 8, at fol. 182r-v, are, “De proprietate signorum in
qualibet terra” and “De cognitione de bono anno vel malo.”

[531] Fol. 183v, “Iam egimus de prima parte huius arte omissis que
astrologi multi sine experimento et ratione dixerunt.”

[532] Fol. 190v (cap. 14, de revolutione annorum nativitatis), “Iam
radicem nativitatis sermone complevimus nec diximus nisi in quibus
sapientes convenerunt et experimentum ex ipsis habetur.” The same
sentence occurs in John of Spain, _Epitome totius astrologiae_, 1548,
II, xx, fol. 62v.

[533] Book 3, fols. 192v-199r, has 16 chapters; Book 4, fols.
199v-201v, has ten. The division into chapters is different in the
printed text ascribed to John of Spain.

[534] Berlin 964, 15th century, fol. 87-, “Quoniam regulas artis
astronomie iudicandi non nisi per diversa opera dispersas invenimus
universali astrologorum desiderio satisfacere cupientes....” Other MSS

[535] Selden supra 76, fol. 3v, de simplici iudicio, de cogitatione, de
electione, de ratione iudicii.

[536] Digby 149, 13th century, fols. 189-95, “Liber de quatuor partibus
astronomie iudiciorum editus a magistro Rogero de Herefordia. Quoniam
regulas astronomie artis ... / ... Explicit prima pars.”

CUL 1693, 14th century, fols. 40-51, “Liber Magistri Rogeri de
Herfordia de iudiciis Astronomie. Quoniam Regulas artis Astronomice ...
/ ... oportet inspicere diligenter et completur Liber primus.”

I shall presently show reason for thinking that Selden supra 76 and MS
E Musaeo 181 also give only the first part.

[537] Selden supra 76, fol. 3r.

[538] Selden supra 76, fol. 6, has only those terms from _redditio_ on;
the others will be found in MS E Musaeo 181.

[539] Selden supra 76, fol. 5r.

[540] BN 7434, 14th century, #5, de tribus generalibus iudiciis
astronomie ex quibus certa (cetera?) defluunt....

Dijon 1045 (the same, I judge, as that numbered 270 by Haskins),
15th century, fol. 172v-, “Quoniam circa tria fit omnis astronomica
consideratio ... / ... sed non respiciens 3. Explicit.”

In the following MS it follows the first book of the work in four parts
but is listed as distinct therefrom in the catalogue:

CUL 1693, 14th century, fols. 51-59, “Liber de tribus generalibus
iudiciis astronomie ex quibus cetera omnia defluunt editus a Magistro
Rogero de Herfordia. Quoniam circa tria sit (fit?) omnis astronomica
consideratio ... / ... minimus vero septem horarum et 20 minutorum
etc.” This last is not the same ending as in Dijon 1045, but would seem
to refer to the length of the shortest day.

[541] Selden supra 76 and MS E Musaeo 181.

[542] As we have already seen to be the case in CUL 1693, fols.
40-51-59. In Selden supra 76, the work in four parts begins at fol.
3r, “Liber magistri Rogeri Hereford de iudiciis astronomicis. Quoniam
regulas artis....” At fol. 10v, Liber de tribus generalibus iudiciis
astronomie ex quibus cetera omnia defluunt, editus a magistro Rogero
Hereford. In three books and a prologue, opening, “Quoniam circa tria
fit omnis astronomica consideracio....” The question then arises,
do fol. 14v, “Incipit liber secundus de cogitatione. Sed quum iam
de intentione et cogitatione tractandum...”; and fol. 18r, “Incipit
liber tercius de electione vel operatione per quod fiat electio”; have
reference to the last two books of _Three General Judgments_ or to the
two middle books of the work in four parts? Apparently the former,
since there is no fourth part given; at fol. 20 seems to open another
treatise, _Liber de motibus planetarum_.

MS E Musaeo 181 has the same arrangement as Selden supra 76, fols.
10-18, but ends with the second book _De cogitacione_. For the first of
the four parts it is fuller than Selden supra 76, fols. 3-9.

Laud. Misc. 594, fols. 136-137r, beginning mutilated, opens “illius
signi et duodenarie ostendentis” and ends “secunda si vero respiciens
tertia. Explicit liber de quatuor partibus iudiciorum astronomiae
editus a magistro Rogero de Hereford.” But the closing words,
“respiciens tertia,” are those connected with the Incipit of the _Book
of Three General Judgments_ in Dijon 1045, a good illustration of the
complexities of the problem.

[543] Besides the fly-leaf of Royal 12-F-17, mentioned above in a note,
Ashmole 192, #2, pp. 1-17, “Expliciunt iudicia Herfordensis multum bona
et utilia.” It will be noted that in Selden supra 76 the title _De
iudiciis_ is applied to the work in four parts.

[544] Neither name, for example, despite the devotion of both to
astrology, appears in the index of T. O. Wedel’s, _The Mediaeval
Attitude toward Astrology particularly in England_, Yale University
Press, 1920.

[545] For example, in the same MS with Daniel of Morley’s work, Arundel
377, fol. 86v, de altitudine Solis etc. apud Toletum et Herefordiam;
_Ibid._, “Anni collecti omnium planetarum compositi a magistro Rogero
super annos domini ad mediam noctem Herefordie anno ab incarnatione
domini mclxxviii post eclipsim que contigit Hereford eodem anno” (13



 Birth and childhood--Education--The state of learning in his
 time--Popular science and mechanical arts--His works--_De
 naturis rerum_--Neckam’s citations--His knowledge of
 Aristotle--Use of recent authors--Contemporary opinion of
 Neckam--His attitude toward natural science--Science and
 the Bible--His own knowledge of science--Incredible stories
 of animals--A chapter on the cock--Effect of sin upon
 nature--Neckam on occult virtues--Fascination--His limited
 belief in astrology--Neckam’s farewell.

[Sidenote: Birth and childhood.]

In the year 1157 an Englishwoman was nursing two babies. One was a
foster child; the other, her own son. During the next fifty years
these two boys were to become prominent in different fields. The fame
of the one was to be unsurpassed on the battlefield and in the world
of popular music and poetry. He was to become king of England, lord
of half of France, foremost of knights and crusaders, and the idol of
the troubadours. He was Richard, Cœur de Lion. The other, in different
fields and a humbler fashion, was none the less also to attain
prominence; he was to be clerk and monk instead of king and crusader,
and to win fame in the domain of Latin learning rather than Provençal
literature. This was Alexander Neckam. Of his happy childhood at St.
Albans he tells us himself in Latin verse somewhat suggestive of Gray’s
lines on Eton:

    _Hic locus aetatis nostrae primordia novit_
    _Annos felices laetitiaeque dies_
    _Hic locus ingenuis pueriles imbuit annos_
    _Artibus et nostrae laudis origo fuit_,

[Sidenote: Education.]

A number of years of his life were spent as teacher at Dunstable in a
school under the control of the monastery of St. Albans. It was at
Paris, however, that he received his higher education and also taught
for a while. Scarcely any place, he wrote late in life, was better
known to him than the city in whose schools he had been “a small
pillar” and where he “faithfully learned and taught the arts, then
turned to the study of Holy Writ, heard lectures in Canon Law, and upon
Hippocrates and Galen, and did not find Civil Law distasteful.” This
passage not only illustrates his own broad education in the liberal
arts, the two laws, medicine, and theology, but also suggests that
these four faculties were already formed or forming at Paris. Neckam
visited Italy, as his humorous poem bidding Rome good-by attests, and
from two of the stories which he tells in _The Natures of Things_[546]
we may infer that he had been in Rouen and Meaux. In 1213 Neckam was
elected abbot of Cirencester, and died in 1217. An amusing story is
told in connection with Neckam’s first becoming a monk. He is said to
have first applied for admission to a Benedictine monastery, but when
the abbot made a bad pun upon his good name, saying, _Si bonus es,
venias; si nequam, nequaquam_ (If you are a good man you may come; if
Neckam, by no means), he joined the Augustinians instead.[547]

[Sidenote: The state of learning.]

Neckam gives us a glimpse of the learned world of his time as well
as of his own education. He thinks past times happy, when he recalls
that “the greatest princes were diligent and industrious in aiding
investigation of nature,” and that it was then commonly said, “An
illiterate king is a crowned ass.”[548] But he is not ashamed of the
schools of his own day. After speaking of the learning of Greece
and Egypt in antiquity and stating that schools no longer flourish
in those lands, he exclaims, “But what shall I say of Salerno and
Montpellier where the diligent skill of medical students, serving the
public welfare, provides remedies to the whole world against bodily
ills? Italy arrogates to itself proficiency in the civil law, but
celestial scripture and the liberal arts prefer Paris to all other
cities as their home. And in accord with Merlin’s prophecy the wisdom
now flourishes at Oxford which in his time was in process of transfer
to Ireland.”[549] Neckam’s assertion that there were no schools
in the Greece and Egypt of his day is interesting as implying the
insignificance of Byzantine and Mohammedan learning in the second half
of the twelfth century. He perhaps does not think of Constantinople as
in “Greece,” but in Egypt he must certainly include Cairo, where the
mosque el-Azhar, devoted in 988 to educational purposes, “has been ever
since one of the chief universities of Islam.”[550] At any rate it is
clear that to his mind the intellectual supremacy has now passed to
western Europe.

[Sidenote: Popular science and mechanical arts.]

In his praises of learning Neckam is a little too inclined, like many
other Latin writers, to speak slightingly of the _vulgus_ or common
crowd. In antiquity, he affirms, the liberal arts were the monopoly
of free men; mechanical or adulterine arts were for the ignoble.[551]
This does not mean, however, that his eyes are closed to the value of
practical inventions, since both in _The Natures of Things_ and his
_De utensilibus_ we find what are perhaps the earliest references to
the mariner’s compass[552] and to glass mirrors.[553] Indeed, he often
entertains us with popular gossip and superstition, mentioning for
the first time the belief in a man in the moon,[554] and telling such
stories of daily life as that of the lonely sailor whose dog helped
him reef the sails and manage the ropes of the boat in crossing the
Channel,[555] or of the sea-fowl whose daily cry announced to the sheep
in the tidal meadow that it was time to seek higher pasture, until one
day its beak was caught by the shell of an oyster it tried to devour
and the sheep were drowned for lack of warning.[556]

[Sidenote: His works.]

Neckam’s writings were numerous, and, as might have been expected
from his wide studies, in varied fields. They include grammatical
treatises,[557] works on Ovid and classical mythology, commentaries
upon the books of the Bible such as the Psalms and Song of Songs, and
the writings of Aristotle, and other works of a literary, scientific,
or theological character.[558] Most of them, however, if extant, are
still in manuscript. Only a few have been printed;[559] among them is
_The Natures of Things_ which we shall presently consider.

Neckam is a good illustration of the humanistic movement in the twelfth
century. He wrote Latin verse[560] as well as prose; took pains with
and pride in his Latin style; and shows acquaintance with a large
number of classical authors. He had some slight knowledge, at least, of
Hebrew. He was especially addicted, according to Wright,[561] to those
ingenious but philologically absurd derivations of words in which the
_Etymologies_ of Isidore of Seville had dealt, explaining, for example,
the Latin word for corpse (_cadaver_) as compounded from the three
roots seen in the words for flesh (_caro_), given (_data_), to worms
(_vermibus_). Yet in one chapter of _The Natures of Things_ Neckam
attacks “the verbal cavils” and use of obsolete words in his time
as “useless and frivolous,” and asks if one cannot be a good jurist
or physician or philosopher without all this linguistic and verbal
display.[562] Wright, moreover, was also impressed by Neckam’s interest
in natural science, calling him “certainly one of the most remarkable
English men of science in the twelfth century,”[563] and noting that
“he not infrequently displays a taste for experimental science.”[564]

[Sidenote: _De naturis rerum._]

_The Natures of Things_, however, is not primarily a scientific or
philosophical dissertation, as Alexander is careful to explain in the
preface, but a vehicle for moral instruction. Natural phenomena are
described, but following each comes some moral application or spiritual
allegory thereof. The spots on the moon, for instance, are explained
by some as due to mountains and to depressions which the sun’s light
cannot reach, by others as due to the greater natural obscurity of
portions of the moon. Neckam adds that they are for our instruction,
showing how even the heavenly bodies were stained by the sin of our
first parents, and reminding us that during this present life there
will always be some blot upon holy church, but that when all the
planets and stars shall stand as it were justified, our state too will
become stable, and both the material moon and holy church will be
spotless before the Lamb.[565] Neckam intends to admire God through
His creatures and in so doing humbly to kiss as it were the feet of
the Creator. Despite this religious tone and the moralizing, Wright
regarded the work “as an interesting monument of the history of science
in western Europe and especially in England during the latter half
of the twelfth century,”[566] and as such we shall consider it. That
it was written before 1200 is to be inferred from a quotation from it
by a chronicler of John’s reign.[567] It seems to have been the best
known of Neckam’s works. The brevity of _The Natures of Things_, which
consists of but two books, if we omit the other three of its five books
which consist of commentaries upon _Genesis_ and _Ecclesiastes_, hardly
allows us to call it an encyclopedia; but its title and arrangement by
topics and chapters closely resemble the later works which are usually
spoken of as medieval encyclopedias. Later in life Neckam wrote a
poetical paraphrase of it with considerable changes, which is entitled
_De laudibus divinae sapientiae_.

[Sidenote: Neckam’s citations.]

The citations of authorities in the _De naturis rerum_ are of much
interest. A number of references to the law books of Justinian show
Neckam’s knowledge of the Roman law,[568] and, as we should expect
after hearing of his commentary upon Ovid’s _Metamorphoses_, allusions
to that work, the _Fasti_, and the _Ars amandi_ are frequent. Claudian
is once quoted for two solid pages and considerable use is made
of other Latin poets such as Vergil, Lucan, Martial, and Juvenal.
Neckam believed that the diligent investigator could find much that
was useful in the inventions of the poets and that beneath their
fables moral instruction sometimes lay hid.[569] Neckam quotes Plato,
perhaps indirectly, and repeats in different words the fable of the
crow and fox, as given in Apuleius.[570] The church fathers are of
course utilized--Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, Basil, and a more recent
theologian like Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury; and familiarity is
shown with the early medieval standard authorities, such as Boethius,
Cassiodorus, Bede, and Isidore. Of writers who may be regarded as
dealing more particularly with natural science there are mentioned
Pliny and Solinus on animals--but he seems to use Pliny very little
and Solinus a great deal, Macer and Dioscorides on the properties
and effects of herbs,[571] while works in the domain of astronomy
or astrology are attributed to Julius (perhaps really Firmicus) and
Augustus Caesar as well as to Ptolemy.[572]

[Sidenote: His knowledge of Aristotle.]

But what is most impressive is the frequent citation from Euclid and
Aristotle, especially the latter. Not only the logical treatises
are cited, but also the _History of Animals_[573] and the _Liber
Coeli et Mundi_, while allusion is also made to Aristotle’s opinions
concerning vision, motion, melancholy, waters, and various astronomical
matters.[574] Such passages--as well as the fact that commentaries
on Aristotle are ascribed to Neckam--suggest that Roger Bacon was
mistaken in the much-quoted passage in which he states that the works
of Aristotle on natural philosophy were first introduced to the
medieval (Latin) learned world in Latin translations by Michael Scot
about 1230. Neckam perhaps cites the _History of Animals_ indirectly:
at any rate he makes little use of it; but his numerous mentions
of Aristotle’s views on nature make it evident that “the truth of
Aristotelian” doctrine is already known in the twelfth century. And he
already regards “the most acute Aristotle” as the pre-eminent authority
among all philosophers. After stating that “all philosophers generally
seem to teach” that the planets move in a contrary direction to the
firmament like flies walking on a rushing wheel, Neckam adds a number
of objections to this view, and adds, “It therefore was the opinion
of Aristotle, the most acute, that the planets moved only with the
firmament.” He then expresses his amazement that the other philosophers
should have dared to oppose Aristotle, should have presumed to set
their opinions against so great a philosopher. It is as if a peacock
spread its spotted tail in rivalry with the starry sky, or as if owls
and bats should vie with the eagle’s unblinking eye in staring at the
mid-day sun.[575]

[Sidenote: Use of recent authors.]

That Neckam had some acquaintance with Arabic and Jewish writers is
indicated by his citing Alfraganus and Isaac. Of Christian writers
of the century before him Neckam quotes from Hildebert, and four
times from Bernard Silvester. He cites the _Pantegni_ or _Tegni_
of Constantinus Africanus more than once.[576] He does not mention
Adelard of Bath by name but in discussing experiments with vacuums
repeats the experiment of the water jar. In another chapter he states
that, if the earth were perforated, an enormous weight of lead would
fall only to the center. Neckam’s chapter on “Why in the same earth
plants grow of contrary effects” is similar to the third chapter of the
_Natural Questions_ of Adelard, and his chapter on “Why certain animals
ruminate” is like Adelard’s seventh in the same work.[577]

[Sidenote: Contemporary opinion of Neckam.]

Roger Bacon, whose estimates of his contemporaries have sometimes been
accepted at too high a value, wrote of Neckam some fifty years after
Alexander’s death: “This Alexander wrote true and useful books on many
subjects, but he cannot with justice be named as an authority.”[578]
Bacon himself, however, seems on at least one occasion to have used
Neckam as an authority without naming him.[579] On the other hand,
another Englishman of note in science, Alfred of Sarchel or Sareshel,
dedicated his book on The Movement of the Heart (_De motu cordis_) to

[Sidenote: His attitude toward natural science.]

Whatever Neckam’s own scientific attainments may have been, there can
be no doubt that he had a high regard for scientia and that he was not
wanting in sympathetic appreciation of the scientific spirit. This
fact shines out in the pages of the _De naturis rerum_ amid its moral
lessons and spiritual illustrations, its erroneous etymologies and
popular anecdotes. “Science is acquired,” he says in one passage, “at
great expense, by frequent vigils, by great expenditure of time, by
sedulous diligence of labor, by vehement application of mind.”[580]
But its acquisition abundantly justifies itself even in practical life
and destructive war. “What craftiness of the foe is there that does
not yield to the precise knowledge of those who have tracked down the
elusive subtleties of things hidden in the very bosom of nature?”[581]
He often cites these experts in natural science, whom he always seems
to regard with respect as authorities.[582] Not that he believes that
they have solved all problems. Some things forsooth are so hidden
that it seems as if Nature is saying, “This is my secret, this is my
secret!”[583] On the other hand, there are many natural phenomena too
familiar through daily use and experience to need mention in books,
since even those who do not read are acquainted with them. Neckam
consequently will follow a middle course in selecting the contents of
his volume.

[Sidenote: Science and the Bible.]

Although a Christian clergyman, Neckam seems to experience little
difficulty in adopting the scientific theories of Aristotle; or, if
there are Aristotelian doctrines known to him with which he disagrees,
he usually quietly disregards them.[584] But he does raise the question
several times of the correctness of Biblical statements concerning
nature. He explains that Adam’s body was composed of all four elements
and not made merely from earth, as the account of creation in the Book
of Genesis might seem to imply.[585] And of the scriptural assertion
that “God made two great lights” he says, “The historical narrative
follows the judgment of the eye and the popular notion,” but of course
the moon is not one of the largest planets.[586] In a third chapter
entitled, “That water is not lower than earth,” he notes that the
statement of the prophet that “God founded the earth upon the waters”
does not agree with Alfraganus’ dictum that there is one sphere of
earth and waters.[587] Wright quite unreasonably interprets this
chapter as showing “to what a degree science had become the slave
of scriptural phraseology.”[588] What it really shows is just the
contrary, for even the Biblical expositors, Neckam tells us, say that
the passage is to be taken in the sense that one speaks of Paris as
located on the Seine. Neckam then makes a suggestion of his own, that
what is really above the waters is the terrestrial paradise, since it
is even beyond the sphere of the moon, and Enoch, translated thither,
suffered no inconvenience whatever from the waters of the deluge.
Moreover, the terrestrial paradise symbolizes the church which is
founded on the waters of baptism. All of which is of course far-fetched
and fanciful, but in no way can be said to make science “the slave
of scriptural phraseology.” On the contrary it makes scriptural
phraseology the slave of mysticism, while it subjects Enoch’s
translation to somewhat material limitations. Possibly there may be
used here some of the apocryphal books current under Enoch’s name.[589]
On one occasion Neckam does accept a statement of the Bible which
seems inconsistent with the views of philosophers concerning the four
elements. This is the assertion that after the day of judgment there
will be neither fire nor water but only air and earth will be left. To
an imaginary philosopher who seems unwilling to accept this assertion
Neckam says, “If you don’t believe me, at least believe Peter, the
chief of the apostles, who says the same in his canonical epistle.
Says what? Says that fire and water will not exist after the judgment
day.”[590] But if Neckam prefers to believe his Bible as to what will
occur in the world of nature after the day of judgment, he prefers
also, as we have seen, to follow natural science in regard to present
natural phenomena. Moreover, in neither the canonical nor apocryphal
books can I find any such statement in the Epistles of Peter as Neckam
here credits him with, unless after the elements have melted with
fervent heat, the new heavens and a new earth are to be interpreted as
made respectively of air and earth!

[Sidenote: His own knowledge of science.]

We may agree at least with Wright that Neckam’s scientific attainments
are considerable for his time. In physics and astronomy he shows
himself fairly well versed. He knows something of vacuums and
syphoning; he argues that water tends naturally to take a spherical
shape;[591] he twice points out that the walls of buildings should not
be exactly parallel, since they should ultimately meet, if prolonged
far enough, at the center of the earth;[592] and he asserts that the
so-called “antipodes” are no more under our feet than we are under
theirs.[593] He gives us what is perhaps our earliest information of
some medieval inventions, such as the mariner’s compass and mirrors
of glass.[594] But he does not attempt to explain differences in the
images in convex and concave mirrors.[595] He is modest in regard to
his biological attainments, saying that he “is not ashamed to confess”
that there are species of which he does not even know the names, to say
nothing of their natures.[596] But when Wright calls Neckam’s account
of animals “a mere compilation” and says that “much of it is taken
from the old writers, such as Solinus, Isidore, and Cassiodorus,”[597]
he is basing his conclusion simply on the fact that marginal notes in
the medieval manuscripts themselves ascribe a number of passages to
these authors. This ascription is correct. But there are many passages
on animals where the manuscripts name no authorities, and with one
exception--the chapter on the hyena from Solinus--Wright fails to name
any source from which Neckam has borrowed these other passages. It
is easy to show that Neckam is a compiler when he himself or others
have stated his authorities but it is equally fair to suppose that he
is honest and original when he cites no authorities or has not been
detected in borrowing. And he sometimes criticizes or discriminates
between the earlier writers. After quoting Bernard Silvester’s
statement that the beaver castrates itself to escape its hunters, he
adds, “But those who are more reliably informed as to the natures of
things assert that Bernard has followed the ridiculous popular notion
and not reached the true fact.”[598] Neckam also questions the belief
that a lynx has such keen sight that it can see through nine walls.
This is supposed to have been demonstrated experimentally by observing
a lynx with nine walls between it and a person carrying some raw meat.
The lynx will move along its side of the walls whenever the meat is
moved on the other side and will stop opposite the spot where the
person carrying the meat stops. Neckam does not question the accuracy
of this absurd experiment, but remarks that some natural scientists
attribute it rather to the animal’s sense of smell than to its power of

[Sidenote: Incredible stories of animals.]

But as a rule Neckam’s treatment of animals is far more credulous
than sceptical. He believes that the barnacle bird is generated from
fir-wood which has been soaked in the salt water for a long time,[600]
and that the wren, after it has been killed and is being roasted, turns
itself on the spit.[601] He tells a number of delightful but incredible
stories in which animals display remarkable sagacity and manifest
emotions and motives similar to those of human beings. Some of these
tales concern particular pets or wild beasts; others are of the habits
of a species. The hawk, for example, keeps warm on wintry nights by
seizing some other bird in its claws and holding it tight against its
own body; but when day returns it gratefully releases this bird and
satisfies its morning appetite upon some other victim.[602] Neckam
also shares the common belief that animals were acquainted with the
medicinal virtues of herbs. When the weasel is wounded by a venomous
animal, it hastens to seek salubrious plants. For “educated by nature,
it knows the virtues of herbs, although it has neither studied medicine
at Salerno nor been drilled in the schools at Montpellier.”[603]

[Sidenote: A chapter on the cock.]

Neckam’s chapter on the barnyard cock perhaps will illustrate the
divergences between medieval and modern science as well as any other.
As a rooster approaches old age, he sometimes lays an egg upon which a
toad sits, and from which is hatched the basilisk. How is it that the
cock “distinguishes the hours by his song”? From great heat ebullition
of the humors within the said bird arises, it produces saltiness, the
saltiness causes itching, from the itching comes tickling, from the
tickling comes delectation, and delectation excites one to song. Now
nature sets certain periods to the movements of humors and therefore
the cock crows at certain hours. But why have roosters crests and hens
not? This is because of their very moist brains and the presence near
the top of their heads of some bones which are not firmly joined. So
the gross humor arising from the humidity escapes through the openings
and produces the crest.[604]

[Sidenote: Effect of sin upon nature.]

Neckam harbored the notion, which we met long before in the pagan
Philostratus, in the Hebraic Enoch literature, in the Christian
_Pseudo-Clementines_ and Basil’s _Hexaemeron_, and more recently in the
writings of Hildegard, that man’s sin has its physical effects upon
nature. To Adam’s fall he attributes not only the spots on the moon but
the wildness of most animals, and the existence of insects to plague,
and venomous animals to poison, and diseases to injure mankind.[605]
But for the fall of man, moreover, all living creatures would be
subsisting upon a vegetarian diet.

[Sidenote: Neckam on occult virtues.]

Magic is hardly mentioned in the _De naturis rerum_. In a passage,
however, telling how Aristotle ordered some of his subtlest works to
be buried with him, Neckam adds that he so guarded the neighborhood of
his sepulcher “by some mysterious force of nature or power of art, not
to say feat of the magic art, that no one in those days could enter
it.”[606] But Neckam is a believer in occult virtues and to a certain
extent in astrology. He would also seem to believe in the force of
incantations from his assertion that “in words and herbs and stones
diligent investigators of nature have discovered great virtue. Most
certain experience, moreover, makes our statement trustworthy.”[607]
He mentions a much smaller number of stones than Marbod, but ascribes
the same occult virtues to those which he does name. In the preface
to his first book he says that some gems have greater virtue when set
in silver than when set in gold. A tooth separated from the jaw of
a wild boar remains sharp only as long as the animal remains alive,
an interesting bit of sympathetic magic.[608] The occult property of
taming wild bulls possessed by the fig-tree which we have already seen
noted by various authors is also remarked by Neckam.[609] A moonbeam
shining through a narrow aperture in the wall of a stable fell directly
on a sore on a horse’s back and caused the death of a groom standing
nearby. Out-of-doors the effect would not have been fatal, since the
force of the moon’s rays would not have been so concentrated upon one
spot and the humidity would have had a better chance to diffuse through

[Sidenote: Fascination.]

After telling of the fatal glances of the basilisk and wolf, Neckam
says that fascination is explained as due to evil rays from someone who
looks at you. He adds that nurses lick the face of a child who has been

[Sidenote: His limited belief in astrology.]

Neckam will not believe that the seven planets are animals.[612] He
does believe, however, that they not merely adorn the heavens but exert
upon inferiors those effects which God has assigned to them.[613] Each
planet rules in turn three hours of the day. As there are twenty-four
hours in all, the last three hours of each day are governed by the same
planet which ruled the first three. Hence the names of the days in the
planetary week, Sunday being the day when the sun governs the first
three and last three hours, Monday the day when the moon controls the
opening and closing hours of day, and so on.[614] But the stars do not
impose necessity upon the human will which remains free. Nevertheless
the planet Mars, for instance, bestows the gift of counsel; and science
is associated with the planet Venus which is hot and moist, as are
persons of sanguine temperament in whom science is wont to flourish.
Neckam also associates each of the seven planets which illuminate the
universe with one of the seven liberal arts which shed light on all
knowledge.[615] He alludes to the great year of which the philosophers
tell, when after 36,000 years the stars complete their courses,[616]
and to the music of the spheres when, to secure the perfect consonance
of an octave, the eighth sphere of the fixed stars completes the
harmony of the seven planets. But he fears that someone may think he
is raving when he speaks with the philosophers of this harmony of the
eight spheres.[617]

[Sidenote: Neckam’s farewell.]

At Jesus College, Oxford, in a manuscript of the early thirteenth
century, which is exclusively devoted to religious writings by
Neckam,[618] there occurs at the close an address of the author to his
work, which is in the same hand as the rest of the manuscript, which
we may therefore not unreasonably suppose to have been Neckam’s own
writing. As he is spoken of in the manuscript as abbot of Cirencester,
perhaps these are also actually the last words he wrote. We may
therefore appropriately terminate our account of Neckam by quoting them.

“Perchance, O book, you will survive Alexander, and worms will eat
me before the book-worm gnaws you; for my body is due the worms and
book-worms will demolish you. You are the mirror of my soul, the
interpreter of my meditations, the surest index of my meaning, the
faithful messenger of my mind’s emotions, the sweet comforter of my
grief, the true witness of my conscience. To you as faithful depositary
I have confided my heart’s secrets; you restore faithfully to me those
things which I have committed to your trust; in you I read myself. You
will come, you will come into the hands of some pious reader who will
deign to pour forth prayers for me. Then indeed, little book, you will
profit your master; then you will recompense your Alexander by a most
grateful interchange. There will come, nor do I begrudge my labor,
the devotion of a pious reader, who will now let you repose in his
lap, now move you to his breast, sometimes place you as a sweet pillow
beneath his head, sometimes gently closing you with glad hands, he will
fervently pray for me to Lord Jesus Christ, who with Father and Holy
Spirit lives and reigns God through infinite cycles of ages. Amen.”


[546] I, 37 and II, 158.

[547] For references to the sources for the above facts of Neckam’s
life see the first few pages of the preface to Thomas Wright’s edition
of the _De naturis rerum_, and the _De laudibus divinae sapientiae_,
in _Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores_, vol. 34, London, 1863.
All references in this chapter, unless otherwise noted, will be to this
volume, and to the book and chapter of the _De naturis rerum_.

[548] II, 21.

[549] II, 174.

[550] S. Lane-Poole, _The Story of Cairo_, London, 1902, p. 124.

[551] II, 21.

[552] II, 98. Wright, _Volume of Vocabularies_, p. 96.

[553] II, 154, and Wright, Preface, p. 1, note. Wright gives no
authority for his further observation, “The employment of glass for
mirrors was known to the ancients, but appears to have been entirely
superseded by metal.”

[554] I, 14.

[555] II, 20.

[556] II, 36.

[557] Such as his “Corrogationes Promethei” found at Oxford in the
following MSS: Laud. Misc. 112, 13th century, fols. 9-42; Merton
College 254, 14th century; Bodleian (Bernard 4094) and 550 (Bernard
2300), middle of 13th century.

[558] HL XVIII (1835), 521 was mistaken in saying that the _De
naturis rerum_ is the only one of Neckam’s works found in continental
libraries, for see Evreux 72, 13th century. Alexandri Neckam opuscula,
fol. 2. “Correctiones Promethei,” fol. 26v, “super expositione
quarundem dictionum singulorum librorum Bibliothece scilicit de
significatione eorum et accentu.” And there is a copy of his _De
utensilibus_ in BN 15171, fol. 176.

[559] The _De utensilibus_ was also edited by Thomas Wright in 1857
in _A Volume of Vocabularies_. Professor Haskins has printed “A List
of Text-books from the Close of the Twelfth Century” in _Harvard
Studies in Classical Philology_, XX (1909), 90-94, which he argues is
from a work by Neckam (Gonville and Caius College MS 385, pp. 7-61).
In 1520 there was printed under the name of Albericus a work which
is really by Neckam, as a MS at Oxford bears witness, Digby 221,
14th century, fol. 1. “Mithologie Alexandri Neckam et alio nomine
Sintillarium appellatur”; Incipit, “Fuit vir in Egipto ditissimus
nomine Syrophanes.” In the same MS, fols. 34v-85, follows another work,
“Alexander Nequam super Marcianum de nuptiis Mercurii et Philologie.”
See also in the Bodleian (Bernard 2019, #3, and 2581, #6) Scintillarium
Poiseos in quo de diis gentium et nominibus deorum et philosophorum de
eis opiniones ubi et de origine idolatriae.

[560] See M. Esposito, “On Some Unpublished Poems Attributed to
Alexander Neckam,” in _English Historical Review_, XXX (1915), 450-71.
He prints several poems on wine, etc., and gives a bibliography of
Neckam’s works, five printed and eleven in MSS.

[561] P. xiii.

[562] II, 174.

[563] P. ix.

[564] P. xii.

[565] I, 14.

[566] Pp. xiv-xv.

[567] Wright (p. lxxvii) used four MSS of the 13th or very early 14th
century. At Corpus Christi College, Oxford, there is a beautifully
written twelfth century copy which he did not use, MS 45, folio, 186
fols., double columns. Comment, in Genesim et Ecclesiasten, sive de
naturis rerum libri quinque; “Explicit tract. mag. Alex. Neckam super
Ecclesiasten de naturis rerum.” Although Wright used two MSS from
the Royal Library, he fails to note a third, MS 3737 in the Harleian
collection of the British Museum. It is of the 13th century according
to the catalogue and contains this interesting inscription, “Hic est
liber S. Albani quam qui abstulerit aut titulum deleverit anathema
sit. Amen.” (This book belongs to St. Albans. May he who steals it or
destroys the title be anathema. Amen.)

[568] I, 75; II, 155, 173.

[569] II, 11; II, 107; II, 12; II, 126.

[570] In H. E. Butler’s translation, Oxford, 1909, given as _Florida_,
cap. 26; in the MSS and in Hildebrand’s text, part II, Lipsiae, 1842,
included in the _prologus_ to the _De Deo Socratis_, with which we
may therefore infer that Neckam was acquainted. Indeed there is a
twelfth century manuscript of the _De Deo Socratis_ in the British
Museum--Harleian 3969.

[571] II, 166.

[572] II, 12.

[573] II, 44. Narcos piscis est tantae virtutis, ut dicit
Aristoteles.... II, 159. Ut docet Aristoteles, omnia mula sterilis est.
While the substance of these two passages is found in Pliny’s _Natural
History_, he does not mention Aristotle in these connections nor use
the Greek word “narcos.” Moreover, Neckam seems to give credit as a
rule to his immediate sources and not to copy their citations; as we
have seen, he credited the fable of the fox and crow to Apuleius and
not to Aesop to whom Apuleius credits it.

[574] II, 153. Sed Aristoteli magis credendum esse reor quam vulgo. I,
39. Dicit tamen Aristoteles quod nihil habet duos motus contrarios.
I, 7. Aristoteles qui dicit, “Solos melancholicos ingeniosos esse.”
II, 1. Secundum veritatem doctrinae Aristotelicae omnes aquae sunt
indifferentes secundum speciem. I, 9. Placuit itaque acutissimo
Aristoteli planetas tantum cum firmamento moveri. Sed quid? Aristoteli
audent sese opponere?... etc.

[575] It would therefore seem that Professor Haskins (EHR, 30, 68)
is scarcely justified in saying that “the natural philosophy and
metaphysics of Aristotle” are “cited in part but not utilized by
Alexander Neckam,” especially since he states presently that “Neckam
himself seems to have been acquainted with the _Metaphysics, De
Anima_, and _De generatione et corruptione_” (_Ibid_., 69, and “A
List of Textbooks,” _Harvard Studies_, XX (1909), 75-94). Professor
Haskins, however, believes that the new Aristotle was by this time
penetrating England, but gives the main credit for this to Alfredus
Anglicus or Alfred of Sareshel, the author of the _De motu cordis_,
and the translator of the Pseudo-Aristotelian _De vegetabilibus_ and
of an appendix to the _Meteorologica_ consisting of three chapters _De
congelatis_, also translated from the Arabic. Alfred was no isolated
figure in English learning, since he dedicated the _De vegetabilibus_
to Roger of Hereford and the _De motu cordis_ to Neckam: ed. Baruch,
Innsbruck, 1878; and see Baeumker, _Die Stellung des Alfred von
Sareshel ... in der Wissenschaft des beginnenden XIII Jahrts., München,
Sitzber_. (1913), No. 9. On the whole it is probably safe to assume
that his knowledge of Aristotle was soon at least, if not from the
start, shared with others. Grabmann (1916), pp. 22-25, adds nothing new
on the subject of Neckam’s knowledge of Aristotle.

[576] I, 39; II, 11; I, 49; II, 129, 140, 157; II, 157 and 161.

[577] I, 19; I, 16; II, 57; II, 162.

[578] Fr. Rogeri Bacon, _Opera Inedita_, ed. Brewer, p. 457 in RS, vol.

[579] As I shall point out when I come to Roger Bacon, there are one or
two rather striking resemblances between his interests and method and
those of Neckam.

[580] II, 155.

[581] II, 174.

[582] For instance, II, 148. “Qui autem in naturis rerum instructi

[583] II, 99.

[584] I, 16, a citation from Aristotle gives him a little trouble.

[585] II, 152.

[586] I, 13. “Sed visus iudicium et vulgarem opinionem sequitur
historialis narratio.”

[587] II, 49.

[588] Preface, p. xxx.

[589] See _I Hermas_, iii, 42. “Hear therefore why the tower is built
upon the water: because your life is and shall be saved by water....”

[590] I, 16.

[591] II, 14. Vitruvius, VIII, v. 5, ascribes this doctrine to

[592] II, 172; and p. 109 of _De utensilibus_.

[593] II, 49.

[594] Wright points out (p. 1, note) that in Beckman’s _History of
Inventions_ no instances are given of allusions to glass mirrors
earlier than the middle of the thirteenth century.

[595] II, 154.

[596] II, 99.

[597] P. xxxix.

[598] II, 140.

[599] II, 138.

[600] I, 48.

[601] I, 78.

[602] I, 25.

[603] II, 123. This reminds one of the account of the tunny fish by
Plutarch which we noted in our chapter on Plutarch, where he says
that the tunny fish needs no astrological canons and is familiar with
arithmetic; “Yes, by Zeus, and with optics, too.” It is unlikely that
Neckam was acquainted with Plutarch’s _Essays_.

[604] I, 75; the reasoning is somewhat similar to Adelard of Bath’s
explanation why his nephew wept for joy.

[605] II, 156.

[606] II, 189.

[607] II, 85.

[608] II, 139.

[609] II, 80.

[610] II, 153; this item is also found in the _De Natura rerum_ of
Thomas of Cantimpré.

[611] II, 153.

[612] I, 9.

[613] I, 7.

[614] I, 10. See p. 670 for Bacon’s different account of this point.

[615] II, 173.

[616] I, 6.

[617] I, 15.

[618] Jesus 94. The MS includes a gloss on the psalter, a commentary on
the proverbs of Solomon, two sermons, and three books on “Who can find
a virtuous woman?” by Bede.



 His life--His works in the west--His works in
 Latin--Attitude to science and religion--Attitude
 to magic--Towards empiricism--Abuse of divine
 names--Occult virtue and empirical remedies in his
 work on poisons--Attitude to astrology--Divination and
 prophecy--Marvels in the _Aphorisms_.

[Sidenote: His life.]

In this chapter we turn to consider perhaps the leading representative
of Hebrew learning in the middle ages, Moses Maimonides[619] or Musa
ibn Maimum or Moses ben Maimon, as he is variously briefly styled,
not to entangle ourselves in the intricacies of his full Arabic name.
In the Latin versions of his works he is spoken of as Rabbi Moyses of
Cordova[620] or is made to call himself an Israelite of Cordova,[621]
but it seems to have been not much more than the scene of his birth and
childhood, since the invasion of the fanatical Almohades in 1148 forced
his father to flee with his family first from place to place in Spain,
in 1160 to Fez, later to Syria and Egypt. From about 1165 on Maimonides
seems to have lived most of the time at Cairo and there to have done
most of his work. After the deaths of his father and brother forced him
to earn a livelihood by practicing medicine, he became physician to the
vizier of Saladin and head of the Jewish community in Cairo.

[Sidenote: His works in the west.]

Whether or not he returned to Spain before his death in 1204, he was
certainly known to the western world of learning. In 1194 he wrote a
letter on the subject of astrology in response to inquiries which he
had received from Jews of Marseilles.[622] In it he tells them that his
_Repetition of the Law_ (_Iteratio legis_) has already spread through
the island of Sicily. But he apparently was still in Cairo, where in
July, 1198, he wrote his treatise on Poisons for the Cadi Fadhil.[623]
After his death, however, it was between the conservative and liberal
parties among the Jews of France and Spain that a struggle ensued over
the orthodoxy of his works, which was finally settled, we are told,
by reference in 1234 to the Christian authorities, who ordered his
books to be burned. His _Guide for the Perplexed_, first published
in Egypt in Arabic in 1190, had been translated into Hebrew at Lunel
in southern France before the close of the twelfth century, and then
again by a Spanish poet.[624] But the rabbis of northern France opposed
the introduction of Maimonides’ works there and, when they were
anathematized for it by those of the south, are said to have reported
the writings to the Inquisition. The Maimonist party then accused them
of delation and several of them were punished by having their tongues
cut out.[625]

[Sidenote: His works in Latin.]

If certain Christian authorities really did thus burn the books of
Maimonides, their action was unavailing to check the spread of his
writings even in Christian lands, and certainly was not characteristic
of the attitude of Christian Latin learning in general. _The Guide of
the Perplexed_ had already been translated into Latin before 1234,[626]
and we find Moses of Cordova cited by such staunch churchmen as
Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus,[627] Thomas Aquinas, and Vincent
of Beauvais. It was for Pope Clement V himself that Ermengard Blasius
of Montpellier translated at Barcelona Maimonides’ work on Poisons at
the beginning of the fourteenth century from Arabic into Latin.[628]

[Sidenote: Attitude to science and religion.]

It was not surprising that Albert and Aquinas should cite Maimonides,
for he did for Jewish thought what they attempted for Christian,
namely, the reconciliation of Aristotle and the Bible, philosophy and
written revelation. If he anteceded them in this and perhaps to some
extent showed them the way, we must remember that William of Conches,
who was earlier than he, had already faced this difficulty of the
relations between science and religion, the scriptures and the writings
of the philosophers, although he of course did not know all the books
of Aristotle. As for Maimonides, continuing the allegorical method of
Philo, he tried to discover in the Old Testament and Talmud all the
Aristotelian philosophy, and was convinced that the prophets of old had
received further revelations of a philosophical character, which had
been transmitted orally for a time but then lost during the periods
of Jewish wandering and persecution.[629] He defended Moses from the
slurs of Galen who had charged the lawgiver with an unscientific
attitude.[630] He denied the eternity of matter[631] and of the
heavens,[632] but held that the celestial bodies were living animated
beings and that the heavenly spheres were conscious and free.[633]
He spoke of belief in demons as “idle and fallacious,” holding that
evil is mere privation and that the personal Devil of Scripture was
an allegory for this, while the possession by demons was merely the
disease of melancholy.[634] Yet he believed that God does nothing
without the mediation of an angel and that belief in the existence of
angels is only second in importance to a belief in God.[635] Thus the
rationalism and scepticism which modern Jewish admirers have ascribed
to Maimonides had their decided limitations.

[Sidenote: Attitude to magic.]

An interesting discussion of magic occurs in the _Guide for the
Perplexed_[636] in connection with the precepts of the Mosaic law
against idolatry. Maimonides holds that magicians and diviners are
closely akin to idolaters, and this part of his discussion is very
similar to patristic treatments which we have already encountered.
He goes on, however, to say that astrology and magic were especially
characteristic of the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Canaanites, and to
distinguish three varieties of magic: one employing the properties of
plants, animals and metals; a second determining the times when these
works should be performed; a third employing gesticulations, actions,
and cries of the human operator himself. Thus he recognizes the three
elements of materials, times, and rites in magic. He sees that they may
be combined in one operation, as when an herb is plucked when the moon
is in a specified degree. He notes that magic is largely performed by
women, towards whom men are more merciful than towards their own sex.
He also notes that magicians claim to do good or at least to ward off
evils such as snakes and wild beasts or the blight from plants. But
the lawgiver forbade “all those practices which contrary to natural
science are said to produce utility by special and occult virtues and
properties, ... such forsooth as proceed not from a natural cause but
a magical operation and which rely upon the constellations to such a
degree as to involve worship and veneration of them.”[637]

[Sidenote: Towards empiricism.]

But then Maimonides goes on to say that “everything is licit in which
any natural cause appears.” And he goes farther than that. He says that
the reader need not feel uneasy because the rabbis have allowed the use
in suspensions of a nail from the yoke worn by criminals or the tooth
of a fox. “For in those times they placed faith in these things because
they were confirmed by experience and served in the place of medicine.”
Similarly in Maimonides’ own day Galen’s remedy of the suspension of a
peony from the patient’s neck was employed in cases of epilepsy, dog’s
dung was used against pustules and sore throat, and so forth. “For
whatever is proved by experience to be true, although no natural cause
may be apparent, its use is permitted, because it acts as a medicine.”
Thus he condemns magic, but approves of empirical medicine as well as
of natural science, and evidently does not regard the employment of
occult virtues as necessarily magical and forbidden.

[Sidenote: Abuse of divine names.]

In another passage of the _Guide_ Maimonides cautions, however, against
the abuse of divine names, and, while he holds to the Tetragrammaton
“which is written but is not pronounced as it is spelled,” deplores
the many inventions of meaningless and inefficacious names which
superstitious and insane men have too often imposed upon the credulity
of good men as possessed of peculiar sanctity and purity and having the
virtue of working miracles. He therefore warns his readers against such
“amulets or experimental charts.”[638]

[Sidenote: Occult virtue and empirical remedies in his work on poisons.]

Maimonides again approves of empirical remedies and of occult virtues
in his treatise on poisons. He holds that counter-poisons do not act by
any physical or chemical quality but by their entire substance or by a
special property.[639] Lemon pips, peeled and applied in a compress; a
powdered emerald, which should be a beautiful green, quite transparent,
and of good water; and the animal bezoar, which comes from the eyes or
gall bladder of deer; these are antidotes whose efficacy is proved by
incontestible experimentation. When _terra sigillata_ cannot be had,
a powdered emerald of the sort just described may be substituted for
it as an ingredient in the grand theriac.[640] Maimonides believes
that this last named remedy is the outcome of experiments with vipers
carried on through the course of centuries by ancient philosophers
and physicians.[641] As for the stone _bezoar_, the writings of the
moderns are full of marvelous tales concerning it, but Galen does not
mention it, and Maimonides has tried all the varieties which he could
obtain against scorpion bites without the least success. But experience
confirms the virtue of the _bezoar_ of animal origin, as has been
stated. Maimonides’ observations concerning cures for the bites of mad
dogs are interesting. He states that at first the bite of a mad dog
does not feel any different from that of a dog who is not mad. He also
warns his readers not to trust to books to distinguish between the
two, but unless they are sure that the dog was not mad, to keep on the
safe side by taking the remedies against the bite of a mad dog.[642]
He also states that all of the various remedies listed for the cure of
the bite of a mad dog must be employed before hydrophobia manifests
itself, “for after the appearance of that symptom, I have never seen
a patient survive.”[643] In speaking of sucking the venom from a
wound, Maimonides affirms that it is better to have this done by a
fasting person, since the spittle of such a person is itself hostile to

[Sidenote: Attitude to astrology.]

That Maimonides was well acquainted with the art of astrology may be
inferred from his assertion that he has read every book in Arabic on
the subject.[645] Maimonides not only believed that the stars were
living, animated beings and that there were as many pure intelligences
as there were spheres,[646] but he states twice in the _Guide for the
Perplexed_[647] that all philosophers agree that this inferior world
of generation and corruption is ruled by the virtues and influences
of the celestial spheres. While their influence is diffused through
all things, each star or planet also has particular species especially
under its influence. According to Lévy[648] he further held not only
that the movement of the celestial sphere starts every motion in
the universe, but that every soul has its origin in the soul of the
celestial sphere. In his letter on astrology to the Jews of Marseilles
he repeats that all the philosophers have held, and that Hebrew masters
of the past have agreed with them, that whatever is in this inferior
world the blessed God has brought about by that virtue which arises
from the spheres and stars. As God performs signs and miracles by
angels, so natural processes and operations by the spheres and stars
which are animated and endowed with knowledge and science. All this
is true and in no way derogates from the Jewish faith. But Maimonides
regards as folly and not wisdom the doctrine found in Arabic works
of astrology that a man’s nativity compels everything to happen to
him just as it does and in no otherwise. He regards this doctrine as
derived from the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Canaanites and makes the
rather rash assertion that no Greek philosopher ever wrote a book of
this sort. This doctrine would make no distinction between a man whom
a lion meets and tears limb from limb and the mouse which a cat plays
with. It would make men warring for kingdoms no different from dogs
fighting over a carcass. These illustrations may seem to the reader
rather favorable to the doctrine which Maimonides is endeavoring to
combat, but he upholds human free will and man’s responsibility for his
actions, which he declares are fundamental tenets of the Jewish law.
For some reason which is not clear to me he identifies the doctrine of
nativities and the control of human destiny by the constellations with
the rule of blind chance and the happening of everything fortuitously,
which would seem quite a different matter and third alternative.[649]
Maimonides holds that God planned all human affairs beforehand, and
that just as He planned the course of nature so as to allow for the
occurrence of miracles, so He planned human affairs in such a way
that men could be held responsible and punished for their sins.
Maimonides regards the rule of chance and the doctrine of nativities as
incompatible with this.

[Sidenote: Divination and prophecy.]

Yet Maimonides believed in a human faculty of natural divination,
stating that the ability to conjecture and divine is found in all men
to some degree, and that in some imagination and divination are so
strong and sure that they correctly forecast all future events or the
greater part of them.[650] The difference between true prophets and
the diviners and observers of times “is that the observers of times,
diviners, and such men, some of their words may be fulfilled and some
of them may not be fulfilled.”[651]

[Sidenote: Marvels in the _Aphorisms_]

In his _Aphorisms_ which are drawn largely from the works of Galen
Maimonides repeats many marvelous stories, instances of belief in
occult virtue, and medical methods bordering upon the practice of
magic.[652] Most of these have already been mentioned in our chapters
upon Galen and need not be reiterated here. It is perhaps worth noting
that Maimonides displays some critical sense as to the authenticity
of works ascribed to Galen. He does not accept as his a treatise
forbidding the burial of a man until twenty-four hours after his
supposed death, although the patriarch who translated it from Greek
into Arabic regarded it as Galen’s. Maimonides suggests that it may
be by some other Galen than the great physician “whose books are well
known.” Maimonides also notes that in the work of Hippocrates on female
ailments which Galen commented upon and Hunain translated there have
been added many statements of a marvelous character by some third hand.


[619] In English, besides the article on Maimonides in the _Jewish
Encyclopedia_, there is a rather good essay by Rabbi Gottheil in
Warner’s _Library of the World’s Best Literature_. Recent works in
French and German are: L. G. Lévy, _Maimonide_, 1911; _Moses ben
Maimon, sein Leben, seine Werke, und sein Einfluss, zur Erinnerung
an den siebenhundertsten Todestag des Maimonides, herausg. v. d.
Gesell. z. Förderung d. Wiss. d. Judenthums durch_ _W. Bacher_, _M.
Brann_, _D. Simonsen_, _J. Guttmann_, 2 vols., containing twenty essays by
various contributors, Leipzig, 1908 and 1914. L. Finkelscherer, _Mose
Maimunis Stellung zum Aberglauben und zur Mystik_, Breslau, 1894; a
Jena doctoral dissertation, full of somewhat juvenile generalizations,
and which fails to appraise Maimonides’ attitude towards magic,
astrology, and superstition comparatively. See also D. Joël, _Der
Aberglaube und die Stellung des Judenthums zu demselben_, 1881-1883.
Other older works on Maimonides are listed in the bibliography in the
_Jewish Encyclopedia_. _The Guide of the Perplexed_ (Moreh Nebukim)
was translated by M. Friedländer, second edition, 1904, and I have
also used the Latin translation of 1629. The _Yad-Hachazakah_ was
published in 1863; _The Book of Precepts_, in 1849; the _Commentary on
the Mishnah_, in 1655. Other works will be listed in the four following

[620] “Rabymoyses Cordubensis,” fols. 1r and 13v of the Latin
translation of his work on Poisons by Ermengard Blasius of Montpellier
in an Oxford MS, Corpus Christi College 125.

[621] “Moysi israhelitici,” on the first page of a Latin translation
printed in 1477 (?)--numbered IA.27063 in the British Museum--from
his “Yad Hachazakah,” under the title, “De regimine sanitatis
omnium hominum sub breviloquio compilatus.” In the Latin version of
the _Aphorisms_ printed in 1489 (numbered IA.28878 in the British
Museum), “ait Moyses filius servuli dei israeliticus cordubensis,” and
“Incipiunt aphorismi excellentissimi Raby Moyses secundum doctrinam
Galieni medicorum principis.”

[622] Moses ben Maimon, _De astrologia ... epistola_, 1555, Hebrew text
and Latin translation.

[623] See the preface as given in the French translation by I.
M. Rabbinowicz, Paris, 1865. There is a German translation by M.
Steinschneider, _Gifte und Ihre Heilungen_, Berlin, 1873.

[624] Lévy (1911), 237.

[625] Lévy (1911), 233, who cites “pour le détail” Kobéç III; Henda
ghenonza, 18, Königsberg, 1856; Taam zeqanim, Frankfurt, 1854.

[626] Lévy (1911), 261, “Le Guide avait dû être traduit en latin au
début du XIIIe siècle, attendu que, dès ce moment, on relève des traces
de son influence dans la scolastique.... Moïse de Salerno déclare qu’il
a lu le Guide en latin avec Nicolo Paglia di Giovenazzo, qui fonda en
1224 un convent dominicain à Trani.”

According to Gottheil, it was this Latin translation of the Guide which
the Jewish opponents of Maimonides’ teaching induced the church to
consign to the flames.

The Latin translation in CUL 1711 (Qi. I. 19), fols. 1-183, is ascribed
in the catalogue to Augustinus Justinianus, Nebiensium Episcopus, and
is said to have been printed in Paris, 1520.

[627] M. Joël, _Verhältnis Albert des Grossen zu Moses Maimonides_,
1863. A. Rohner, _Das Schöpfungsproblem bei Moses Maimonides, Albertus
Magnus, und Thomas von Aquin_, 1913.

[628] See his preface in Corpus Christi 125, fol. 1r.

[629] _Jewish Encyclopedia_, p. 74.

[630] _Aphorismi_ (1489), partic. 25. “Et ostendam hac demonstratione
quod insipientia quam attribuit Moysi erat attribuenda ipsi Galieno
vere et ponam dictum meum inter eos sicut inter duos sapientes unum
compilatiorem alio....”

[631] JE, p. 77.

[632] Lévy (1911), p. 86.

[633] Lévy (1911), p. 84.

[634] Finkelscherer (1894), pp. 40-51.

[635] Lévy, pp. 89-90.

[636] _More Nevochim_ (1629), III, 37.

[637] “... interdixit omnia ea quae contra speculationem naturalem
specialibus et occultis viribus ac proprietatibus utilitatem afferre
asserunt ... talia videlicet quae non ex ratione naturali sed ex opere
magico sequuntur et stellarum dispositionibus ac rationibus innituntur,
unde necessario ad colendas et venerandas illas devenitur.”

[638] _More Nevochim_ (1629), I, 61-62.

[639] French translation (1865), p. 26.

[640] _Ibid._, pp. 27-28, 53-4.

[641] _Ibid._, p. 38.

[642] _Poisons_ (1865), p. 43.

[643] _Ibid._, p. 40.

[644] _Ibid._, p. 21.

[645] So he states at the beginning of his _De astrologia_ (1555).

[646] Lévy (1911), pp. 84-5.

[647] II, 5 and 10.

[648] Lévy (1911), p. 87.

[649] And the following passage seems quite confused and illogical;
but perhaps the fault is with the Latin translator: “Ad haec omnes
illae tres sectae philosophorum qui asseverant omnia per sphaeras et
stellas fieri etiam dicunt quicquid mortalibus contingit id casu temere
et fortuito fieri et nullam de supernis causam habere, nec ea in re

[650] _More Nevochim_ (1629), II, 38.

[651] _Yad-Hachazakah_, (1863), I, i, x, pp. 63-4.

[652] These occur in the 24th section which is devoted to medical
marvels: “Incipit particula xxiiii continens aphorismos dependentes a
miraculis repertis in libris medicorum.” It is rather to Maimonides’
credit that he segregated these marvels in a separate chapter.



 Prince Khalid ibn Jazid and _The Book of Morienus_--Robert
 of Chester’s preface--The story of Morienus and Calid--The
 secret of the philosopher’s stone--Later medieval works of
 alchemy ascribed to Hermes--Medieval citations of Hermes
 otherwise than as an alchemist--Astrological treatises--_Of
 the Six Principles of Things_--_Liber lune_--Images of the
 seven planets--_Book of Venus_ of Toz Graecus--Further
 mentions of Toz Graecus--Toz the same as Thoth or
 Trismegistus--Magic experiments.

[Sidenote: Prince Khalid ibn Jazid and _The Book of Morienus_.]

Al-Mas’udi, who lived from about 885 to 956 A. D., has preserved a
single recipe for making gold from the alchemical poem, _The Paradise
of Wisdom_, originally consisting of some 2315 verses and written by
the Ommiad prince, Khalid ibn Jazid (635-704 A. D.) of Alexandria.
Other Arabic writers of the ninth and tenth centuries represent this
prince as interested in natural science and medicine, alchemy and
astrology, and as the first to promote translations from the Greek and
Coptic. Thus the alchemistic _Book of Crates_ is said to have been
translated either by him or under his direction. The _Fihrist_ further
states that Khalid was instructed in alchemy by one Morienes, who was
himself a disciple of Adfar.[653] There is still extant, but only in
Latin translation, what purports to be the book of this same Morienes,
or Morienus as he is called in Latin, addressed to this same Khalid.
The book cites or invents various Greek alchemists but claims the
Thrice-Great Hermes as its original author. It is of this work that we
shall now treat as the first of a number of medieval Hermetic books.

[Sidenote: Robert of Chester’s preface.]

One of the earliest treatises of alchemy translated from Arabic into
Latin would appear to be this which Morienus Romanus, a hermit of
Jerusalem, edited for “Calid, king of the Egyptians,” and which Robert
of Chester turned into Latin[654] on the eleventh day of February
in the year 1182 of the Spanish era or 1144 A. D. Of Robert’s other
translations we have spoken elsewhere.[655] He opens his preface to
the present treatise with an account of three Hermeses--Enoch, Noah,
and the king, philosopher, and prophet who reigned in Egypt after the
flood and was called Hermes Triplex. This account is very similar to
one which we shall presently find prefixed to an astrological treatise
by Hermes Trismegistus. It was this Hermes, Robert continues, who
rediscovered and edited all the arts and sciences after the deluge, and
who first found and published the present work, which is a book divine
and most replete with divinity, and which is entitled, _The Book of the
Composition of Alchemy_. “And since,” says Robert, “what alchemy is and
what is its composition, your Latin world does not yet know truly,[656]
I will elucidate the same in the present treatise.” Alchemy is that
substance which joins the more precious bodies which are compounded
from one original matter and by this same natural union converts them
to the higher type. In other words, it is the philosopher’s stone by
which metals may be transmuted. Although Robert is a relatively young
man and his Latinity perhaps not of the best, he essays the task of
translating this so great and important a work and reveals his own name
in the preface lest some other person steal the fruits of his labor and
the praise which is his due. Lippmann dismisses the translation rather
testily as “surpassed by no later work for emptiness, confusion, and
sheer drivel,”[657] but we shall attempt some further description.

[Sidenote: The story of Morienus and Calid.]

Following Robert’s preface comes an account, in the usual style of
apocryphal and occult works, told partly in the first person by
Morienus and partly of him in the third person by someone else. Long
after Christ’s passion an Adfar of Alexandria found the book of Hermes,
mastered it after long study, and himself gave forth innumerable
precepts which were spread abroad and finally reached the ears of
Morienus, then a young man at Rome. This reminds us of the opening of
the _Recognitions_ of Clement. Morienus left his home, parents, and
native land, and hastened to Alexandria to the house of Adfar. When
Adfar learned that Morienus was a Christian, he promised to divulge to
him “the secrets of all divinity,” which he had hitherto kept concealed
from nearly everyone. When Adfar died, Morienus left Alexandria and
became a hermit at Jerusalem. Not many years thereafter a king arose
in Egypt named Macoya. He begat a son named Gezid who reigned after
his father’s death and in his turn begat a son named Calid who reigned
after his death. This Calid was a great patron of science and searched
all lands for someone who could reveal this book of Hermes to him.
Morienus was still living, and when a traveler brought him news of
Calid and his desire, he came to his court, not for the sake of the
gifts of gold which the king had offered, but in order to instruct him
with spiritual gifts. Saluting Calid with the words, “O good king,
may God convert you to a better,” he asked for a house or laboratory
in which to prepare his masterpiece of perfection, but departed
secretly as soon as it was consummated. When Calid saw the gold which
Morienus had made, he ordered the heads to be cut off of all the other
alchemists whom he had employed for years, and grieved that the hermit
had left without revealing his secret.

[Sidenote: The secret of the philosopher’s stone]

More years passed before Calid’s trusty slave, Galip, learned the
identity and whereabouts of Morienus from another hermit of Jerusalem
and was despatched with a large retinue to bring him back. The king
and the hermit at first engaged in a moral and religious discussion,
and many days passed before Calid ventured to broach the subject of
alchemy. He then put to Morienus a succession of questions, such as
whether there is one fundamental substance, and concerning the nature
and color of the philosopher’s stone, also its natural composition,
weight and taste, cheapness or expensiveness, rarity or abundance,
and whether there is any other stone like unto it or which has its
effect. This last query Morienus answered in the negative, since in
the philosopher’s stone are contained the four elements and it is
like unto the universe and the composition of the universe. In the
process of obtaining it decay must come first, then purification. As in
human generation, there must first be _coitus_, then conception, then
pregnancy, then birth, then nutrition. To such general observations
and analogies, which are commonplaces of alchemy, are finally added
several pages of specific directions as to alchemistic operations. Such
enigmatic nomenclature is employed as “white smoke,” and “green lion,”
but Morienus later explains to Calid the significance of most of these
phrases. “Green lion” is glass; “impure body” is lead; “pure body” is
tin, and so on.

[Sidenote: Later works of alchemy ascribed to Hermes.]

In so far as I have examined the alchemical manuscripts of the later
middle ages,[658] which I have not done very extensively owing
to the fact that most of them consist of anonymous and spurious
compositions which are probably of a later date than the period with
which we are directly concerned,[659] I have hardly found as many
treatises ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus as might be expected.
Perhaps as many works are ascribed to Aristotle, Geber, and other
famous names as to Hermes or Mercury. Thus out of some forty items in
an alchemical miscellany of the fourteenth or fifteenth century[660]
two are attributed to Hermes and Mercury, two to Aristotle, one to
Plato, three to Geber, two to Albertus Magnus, and others to his
contemporaries like Roger Bacon, Brother Elias, Bonaventura, and
Arnald of Villanova. Of the two titles connected with Hermes one is
simply a _Book of Hermes_; the other, _A Treatise of Mercury to his
disciple Mirnesindus_. Other specimens of works ascribed to Hermes in
medieval Latin manuscripts are: _The Secrets of Hermes the philosopher,
inventor of metals, according to the nature of transmutation_[661] or
in another manuscript, “inventor of transformation,”[662] a treatise
on the fountain of youth by Trismegistus;[663] and a work on alcohol
ascribed to “father Hermes.”[664] The Early English Text Society has
reprinted an English translation of the Latin treatise on the fifth
essence “that Hermes, the prophet and king of Egypt, after the flood
of Noah, father of philosophers, had by revelation of an angel of God
to him sent,” which was first published “about 1460-1476 by Fred J.
Furnival.”[665] “The book of Hermogenes” is also to be accredited to
Hermes Trismegistus.[666]

[Sidenote: Medieval citations of Hermes]

Among the Arabs and in medieval Latin learning the reputation of
Hermes continued not only as an alchemist, but as a fountain of
wisdom in general. Roger Bacon spoke of “Hermes Mercurius, the father
of philosophers.”[667] Daniel of Morley we have heard cite works of
Trismegistus and distinguish between “two most excellent authorities,”
the “great Mercury,” and his nephew, “Trismegistus Mercurius.”[668]
Albertus Magnus cited “The so-called _Sacred Book_ of Hermes to
Asclepius,”[669] an astrological treatise of which the Greek version
has been mentioned in our earlier chapter on Hermes, Orpheus, and
Zoroaster. And Albert’s contemporary, William of Auvergne, bishop of
Paris, makes use several times[670] of the dialogue between Mercurius
Trismegistus, “the Egyptian philosopher and magician,” and Asclepius
from a _Liber de hellera_ or _De deo deorum_, which is presumably the
Greek Ἱερὰ βίβλος. Trismegistus is represented as affirming that there
is divine power in herbs and stones. In the _Speculum astronomiae_[671]
Albert listed a number of bad books on necromantic images[672] by
Hermes of which Christians were to beware: a book of images for each of
the seven planets, an eighth treatise following them, a work on _The
seven rings of the seven planets_, a book of magical illusions (_liber
praestigiorum_),[673] and a book addressed to Aristotle. William of
Auvergne seems to allude to the same literature when he twice repeats
a story of two fallen angels from Hermes, citing his _Seven Planets_
in one case and _Book of Venus_ in the other.[674] Albertus Magnus
also cites “books of incantations” by Hermes in his work on vegetables
and plants;[675] and a _Liber Alcorath_ is ascribed to Hermes in the
_Liber aggregationis_ or _Experimenta Alberti_ which is current under
Albert’s name. The astrologer Cecco d’Ascoli in the early fourteenth
century cites a treatise by Hermes entitled _De speculis et luce_ (_Of
mirrors and light_).[676] These few instances of medieval citation of
Hermes could of course be greatly multiplied but suffice to suggest the
importance of his name in the later history of magic and astrology as
well as of alchemy.

[Sidenote: Astrological treatises.]

We may, however, briefly examine some specimens of the works
themselves, chiefly, as in the citations, of a magical and astrological
character, which are current under Hermes’ name in the medieval
manuscripts. A treatise on fifteen stars, fifteen stones, fifteen
herbs, and fifteen images to be engraved on the stones, is ascribed
sometimes to Hermes and sometimes to Enoch.[677] The number fifteen
is difficult to relate to planets, signs, or decans; in fact the
fifteen stars are fixed stars supposed to exceed others in virtue.
John Gower in the fourteenth century treated of the same subject in
his _Confessio amantis_.[678] In the middle ages a _Centiloquium_, or
series of brief astrological dicta, was ascribed to Hermes as well
as to Ptolemy. Some manuscripts imply that the _Centiloquium_ of
Hermes was a selection from the astrological treatises of Hermes put
together by Stephen of Messina for Manfred, king of Sicily.[679] In a
fifteenth century manuscript is ascribed to Hermes a Latin astrological
treatise of considerable length opening with the thirty-six decans
and their astrological influence[680] but dealing with various other
matters bearing upon the prediction of nativities; and a much briefer
but equally astrological work on _Accidents_, which we are told was
rewritten by Haly before it was translated into Latin.[681] Two books
of “Hermes the Philosopher” on the revolutions of nativities by some
unspecified translator were printed by H. Wolf in 1559.[682] A work
on medical diagnosis of diseases from the stars without inspection of
urine which is ascribed to Hermes in a Wolfenbüttel manuscript[683]
would probably turn out upon examination to be the treatise on that
theme of William of England.

[Sidenote: _Of the Six Principles of Things._]

By the thirteenth century, if not before, a treatise was in existence
by “Hermes Mercurius Triplex” on the six principles of things[684]
with a prologue concerning the three Mercuries,[685] of whom we have
already heard Robert of Chester speak in his preface. Here too the
first is identified with Enoch, the second with Noah, and the third is
called triplex because he was at once king, philosopher, and prophet,
ruling Egypt after the flood with supreme equity, renowned in both the
liberal and mechanical arts, and the first to elucidate astronomy. He
wrote _The Golden Bough_, _Book of Longitude and Latitude_, _Book of
Election_, _Canons on the Planets_, and a treatise on the astrolabe.
Among his pastimes he brought to light alchemy which the philosopher
Morienus developed in his writings. _The Six Principles of Things_ is
a treatise part astronomical and part astrological, considering the
natures of the signs and the powers of the planets in their houses.
Citations of such authors as Zahel and Dorotheus show that the work is
much later than Hermes. It is followed by four other brief treatises,
of which the first discusses time, the winds, pestilences, divination
from thunder, and eclipses of the sun and the moon; the second and the
third deal with the astrological topics, _Of the triple power of the
celestial bodies_, and _Of the efficacy of medicines according to the
power of the planets and the effect of the signs_. The fourth treatise
tells how to use the astrolabe.

[Sidenote: _Liber lune._]

Of the books of bad necromantic images for each of the seven planets
by Hermes, which the _Speculum astronomiae_ censured, at least one
seems to have been preserved for our inspection in the manuscripts,
since it has the same _Incipit_ as that cited by Albert, “_Probavi
omnes libros_ ...,” and the same title, _Liber lune_,[686] or _Book
of the Moon_, or, as it is more fully described, of the twenty-eight
mansions and twenty-eight images of the moon and the fifty-four angels
who serve the images. And as Albert spoke of a treatise of magic
illusions which accompanied the seven books of necromantic images for
the planets, so this _Liber lune_ is itself also called _Mercury’s
magic illusion_.[687] It probably is the same _Book of Images of
the Moon_ which William of Auvergne described as attempting to work
magic by the names of God. The treatise opens in the usual style of
apocryphal literature by narrating how this marvelous volume came to
be discovered. After some “investigator of wisdom and truth and friend
of nature had read the volumes of many wise men,” he found this one
in a golden ark within a silver chest which was in turn placed in a
casket of lead,--a variant on Portia’s method. He then translated it
into Arabic for the benefit of the many. Nevertheless we have the usual
caution to fear God and not show the book to anyone nor allow any
polluted man to touch it, since with it all evils as well as all goods
may be accomplished. It tells how to engrave images as the moon passes
through each of its twenty-eight houses. The names of angels have to be
repeated seven times and suffumigations performed seven times in the
name of God the merciful and pious. Just as the moon is nearer to us
than other planets and more efficacious, so this book, if we understand
it aright, is more precious than any other. Hermes declares that he
has proved all the books of the seven planets and not found one truer
or more perfect than this most precious portion. Balenuch, however,
a superior and most skilful philosopher, does much of the talking
for his master Hermes. The Latin text retains the Arabic names for
the mansions of the moon, the fifty-four angels also have outlandish
names, and a wood that grows in an island in India is required in the
suffumigations. Instructions are given for engraving images which
will destroy villa, region, or town; make men dumb; restrain sexual
intercourse within a given area; heat baths at night; congregate ten
thousand birds and bees; or twist a man’s limbs. Four special recipes
are given to injure an enemy or cause him to sicken.

[Sidenote: Hermes on images of the seven planets.]

We shall leave until our chapter on the Pseudo-Aristotle “The book of
the spiritual works of Aristotle, or the book _Antimaquis_, which is
the book of the secrets of Hermes ... the ancient book of the seven
planets.” But in at least one manuscript the work of Hermes on the
images of the moon is accompanied by another briefer treatise ascribed
to him on the images of the seven planets, one for each day of the
week, to be made in the first hour of that day which is ruled by the
planet after which the day is named. This little treatise begins with
the words, “Said Hermes, editor of this book, I have examined many
sciences of images.”[688] Altogether I have noted traces of it in four

[Sidenote: _Book of Venus_ of Toz.]

In two of these manuscripts the work of Hermes on images of the seven
planets is immediately followed by a work of Toc or Toz Graecus on the
occult virtues of stones called the Book of Venus or of the twelve
stones of Venus.[689] The first part of the treatise, however, consists
of instructions, largely astrological in character but also including
use of names of spirits and suffumigations, for casting a metal image
in the name of Venus. Astrological symbols are to be placed on the
breast, right palm, and foot of the image.

In the discussion of stones each paragraph opens with the words,
“Said Toz.” The use of these stones is mainly medicinal, however, and
consists usually in taking a certain weight of the stone in question.
Of astrology, spirits, and power of words there is little more said.
Some marvelous virtues are attributed to stones nevertheless. With one,
if you secretly touch two persons who have hitherto been firm friends,
you will make them enemies “even to the end of the world. And if
anyone grates from it the weight of one _argenteus_ and mixes it with
serpent’s blood (possibly the herb of that name) and gives it to anyone
to drink, he will flee from place to place.”

[Sidenote: Further mentions of Toz Graecus.]

Toz Graecus was cited by more than one medieval writer and the work
which we have just been describing was not the only one that then
circulated under his name, although it seems to be cited by Daniel
Morley in the twelfth century.[690] Albertus Magnus in his list of
evil books on images in the _Speculum astronomiae_ included a work on
the images of Venus,[691] another on the four mirrors of Venus, and
a third on stations for the cult of Venus. This last is also alluded
to by William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris, in his _De universo_, and
ascribed by him to “Thot grecus.”[692] There also was once among the
manuscripts of Amplonius at Erfurt a “book of Toz Grecus containing
fifty chapters on the stations of the planets.”[693] Cecco d’Ascoli,
the early fourteenth century astrologer, mentions together “Evax king
of the Arabs and Zot grecus and Germa of Babylon.” Which reminds one
of Albert’s allusion in his theological _Summa_[694] to “the teachings
of that branch of necromancy” which treats of “images and rings and
mirrors of Venus and seals of demons,” and is expounded in the works
of Achot of Greece--who is probably our Toz Graecus, Grema of Babylon,
and Hermes the Egyptian. And again in his work on minerals[695] Albert
lists together as authorities on the engraving of gems with images the
names of Magor Graecus, Germa of Babylon, and Hermes the Egyptian.

[Sidenote: Toz the same as Thoth or Hermes Trismegistus.]

Moreover, not only is the work of Toz closely associated both in the
extant manuscripts and by Albertus Magnus with that of Hermes, but
William of Auvergne’s spelling “Thot” shows what has perhaps already
occurred to the reader, that this Toc or Toz Graecus is no other than
the Greek equivalent of the Egyptian god Thoth; in other words, Hermes
Trismegistus himself. I have not yet mentioned one other treatise found
in a seventeenth century manuscript, and which, while very likely a
later invention, shows at least that Toz remained a name to conjure
with down into modern times.[696] The work is called _A commentary
by Toz Graecus, philosopher of great name, upon the books of Solomon
to Rehoboam concerning secrets of secrets_. A long preface tells how
Solomon summed up all his vast knowledge in this book for the benefit
of his son Rehoboam, and Rehoboam buried it in his tomb in an ivory
casket, and Toz after its discovery wept at his inability to comprehend
it, until it was revealed to him through an angel of God on condition
that he explain it only to the worthy.

[Sidenote: Magic experiments.]

The text is full of magic experiments: experiments of theft;
experiments in invisibility; love experiments; experiments in
gaining favor; experiments in hate and destruction; “extraordinary
experiments”; “playful experiments”; and so on. These with
conjurations, characters, and suffumigations make up the bulk of the
first book. The second book deals chiefly with “how exorcists and their
allies and disciples should conduct themselves,” and with the varied
paraphernalia required by magicians: fasts, baths, vestments, the knife
or sword, the magic circle, fumigations, water and hyssop; light and
fire, pen and ink, blood, parchment, stylus, wax, needle, membrane,
characters, sacrifices, and astrological images. Two of its twenty-two
chapters deal with “the places where by rights experiments should be
performed” and with “all the precepts of the arts or experiments.” In
another seventeenth century manuscript are _Seven Books of Magical
Experiments of Hermes Trismegistus_. “And they are magic secrets of the
kings of Egypt,” drawn, we are told, from the treasury of Rudolph II,
Holy Roman emperor from 1576 to 1612.[697] Another manuscript at Vienna
contains a German translation of the same work.[698]


[653] For detailed references for this and the preceding statements see
Lippmann (1919), pp. 357-9.

[654] I have used the edition of Paris, 1564, _Liber de compositione
alchemiae quem edidit Morienus Romanus Calid Regi Aegyptiorum Quem
Robertus Castrensis de Arabico in Latinum transtulit_. A number of MSS
of the work will be found listed in the index of Black’s Catalogue of
the Ashmolean MSS, and elsewhere, as in Sloane 3697 and Digby 162, 13th
century, fols. 21v and 23r. Other editions are Basel, 1559; Basel,
1593, in _Artis Auriferae quam Chemiam vocant_, II, 1-54; and Geneva,
1702, in J. J. Manget, _Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa_, I, 509-19.

[655] See above, chapter 38, p. 83.

[656] Berthelot (1893) I, 234, took the date to be 1182 A. D. and
so, on the basis of this remark, placed the introduction of Arabic
alchemy into Latin learning 38 years too late. It is rather amusing
that Lippmann, who elsewhere avails himself of petty pretexts to
belittle the work of Berthelot, should have overlooked this error.
He still (1919), pp. 358 and 482, states the date as 1182 A. D.,
although he is puzzled how to reconcile it with that of 1143 A. D. for
Robertus Castrensis or Robert de Retines. He also is at a loss as to
the identity of this Robert or the meaning of “Castrensis,” and has
no knowledge of the publications of Karpinski (1915) and Haskins, EHR

[657] Lippmann (1919), p. 358.

[658] Berthelot is a poor guide in any such matter since his
pretentious volumes on medieval alchemy are based on the study of a
comparatively small number of MSS at Paris. He made little or no use
of the Sloane collection in the British Museum which is very rich in
alchemical MSS, a subject in which Sir Hans Sloane was apparently much
interested, or of the Ashmolean collection at Oxford, although Elias
Ashmole edited the _Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum_, 1652, “containing
several poetical pieces of our famous English philosophers who have
written the hermetic mysteries in their own ancient language,”--a work
in which Ashmole himself is called _Mercuriophilus Anglicus_.

[659] The two earliest MSS used by Berthelot for medieval Latin alchemy
were BN 6514 and 7156 of the late 13th or early 14th century. In an
earlier chapter we have mentioned Berlin 956 of the 12th century, fol.
21, “Hic incipit alchamia,” and probably a fairly long list could be
made of alchemical MSS of the 13th century, like Digby 162 mentioned
in a previous note to this chapter. However, as a rule the numerous
alchemical collections in the Sloane MSS--a majority of the MSS
numbered from about 3600 to about 3900 are in whole or part concerned
with alchemy, as well as a number of earlier numbers--are not earlier
than the 14th and 15th centuries, and many are subsequent to the
invention of printing.

[660] Riccard. 119.

[661] Sloane 1698, 14th century, fol. 53-, “Hic incipiunt secreta
Hermetis inventoris metallorum secundum transmutationis naturam ... /
... Explicit Hermes de salibus et corporibus.”

Corpus Christi, 125, fols. 39-42, “Incipiunt secreta Hermetis
philosophi inventoris metallorum secundum mutacionis naturam.”

[662] Library of the Dukes of Burgundy 4275, 13th century, Secreta
Hermetis philosophi “Inventor transformationis.” The preceding item
4274 is in the same MS and consists of an exposition of Hermes’ words,
“Quoniam ea quae ...” etc.

[663] Vienna 2466, 14th century, fols. 85-88, Trismegistus, aqua vite.

[664] Wolfenbüttel 2841, anno 1432, fols. 138-44v, De aque ardentis
virtutibus mirabilibus que de vino utique fit....

[665] Reprinted London, 1866; revised, 1889. Treatises of alchemy are
also ascribed to Hermes in Sloane 2135, 15th century, and 2327, 14th

[666] Arezzo 232, 15th century, fols. 1-14, “Liber transmissus ab
Alexandro rege ex libra Hermogenis”; Bodleian 67, fol. 33v (_Secret
of Secrets_ of the pseudo-Aristotle), “Et pater noster Hermogenes qui
triplex est in philosophia optime philosophando dixit.”

[667] _Opus minus_, ed. Brewer (1859), in RS XV, 313.

[668] Arundel 377, 13th century, _Philosophia magistri danielis de
merlai_, fols. 89r, 92v; these citations, like many others, are not
included in V. Rose’s faulty list of Daniel’s authorities in his
article, “Ptolemaeus und die Schule von Toledo,” _Hermes_, VIII (1874),

[669] _De animalibus_, XX, i, 5, “dicit Hermes ad Esclepium.”

[670] The passages are mentioned in the chapter on William of Auvergne;
see below, p. 350.

[671] _Spec. astron._, cap. 11 (_Opera_, ed. Borgnet, X, 641).

[672] A book on necromantic images by Hermes is listed in the 1412 A.
D. catalogue of MSS of Amplonius: Math. 54.

[673] See in the same catalogue, Math. 9, Mercurii Colotidis liber

[674] _Opera_, Venetiis, 1591, pp. 831, 898.

[675] _De veget. et plantis_, V, ii, 6.

[676] P. G. Boffito, _Il Commento di Cecco d’Ascoli all’ Alcabizzo_,
Firenze, 1905, p. 43.

[677] Catalogue of Amplonius (1412 A. D.) Mathematica 53, “Liber
Hermetis de quindecim stellis, tot lapidibus, tot herbis, et totidem
figuris.” But in Amplon. Quarto 381, fols. 43-5, the work is ascribed
to Enoch, whom it is not surprising that Robert of Chester classed as
one of three Hermeses.

Ashmole 1471, 14th century, fols. 50r-55, “Incipit liber Hermetis de 15
Stellis, 15 lapidibus, 15 herbis et 15 ymaginibus.”

Ashmole 341, 13th century, fols. 120v-28.

Corpus Christi 125, fols. 70-75.

Royal 12-C-XVIII, 14th century.

Harleian 80, 14th century.

Harleian 1612.

Sloane 3847, 17th century.

BN 7440, 14th century. No. 4.

Vienna 5311, 14-15th century, fols. 37-40.

Vienna 3124, 15th century, fols. 161-2, De Stellis fixis, translatus a
Mag. Salione, is perhaps the same work. This Salio, who seems to have
been a canon at Padua, also translated Alchabitius on nativities from
Arabic into Latin: _Ibid._, fols. 96-123; BN 7336, 15th century, #13;
S. Marco XI-110, 15th century, fols. 40-111.

By the fourteenth century the work had been translated into French:

CU Trinity 1313, early 14th century, fol. 11-, “Cy commence le livre
Hermes le Philosofre parlaunt des 15 esteilles greyndres fixes et 15
pierres preciouses,” etc.

[678] Sloane 3847, fol. 83. “What stones and hearbes are appropriated
unto the 15 Starres accordinge to John Gower in his booke intituled _De
confessione amantis_.”

[679] Amplon. Quarto 354, mid 14th century, fols. 1-3, “Centiloquium
Hermetis ... domino Manfrido inclito regi Cicilie Stephanus de Messana
has flores de secretis astrologie divi Hermetis transtulit.”

CLM 51, 1487-1503 A. D., fols. 46v-49, Hermetis divini Propositiones
sive flores Stephanus de Messana transtulit. Other MSS are numerous.

Printed before 1500; I have used an edition numbered IA.11947 in the
British Museum. It was printed behind Ptolemy at Venice in 1493.

[680] Harleian 3731, 15th century, fols. 1r-50r, “Incipit liber
hermetis trismegisti de XXXVI decanis XII signorum et formis eorum
et de climatibus et faciebus quas habent planete in eisdem signis.”
After this rubric the text opens, “Triginta sex autem decani”; closes,
“... aspexerit illum dictis prius mori.” It is obviously different
from the Dialogue with Asclepius included in the works of Apuleius and
longer than the Greek astrological text dealing with the thirty-six
decans published by J. B. Pitra, _Analecta Sacra_, V, ii, 284-90. The
discussion of the decans terminates at the bottom of fol. 2.

[681] Harleian 3731, fols. 170v-172v, “Incipiunt sermones hermetis
de accidentibus. Ordina significationes fortiorem ... / ... erit res
egritudo. Explicit sermo hermetis de accidentibus rescriptus ab Haly.”

[682] _Hermetis philosophi de revolutionibus nativitatum libri duo
incerto interprete_, in an astrological collection by H. Wolf, Basel,
1559, pp. 201-79.

[683] Wolfenbüttel 2841, anno 1432 fols. 380-2. Liber Hermetis
philosophi de iudiciis urine sine visu eiusdem urine et de
prognosticatione in egritudinibus secundum astronomiam.

Vienna 5307, 15th century, fol. 150, has a “Fragmentum de iudicio
urinae” ascribed to Hermes, but it follows the treatise of William of

[684] Digby 67, end of 12th century according to the catalogue but
I should have placed it in the next century, fols. 69-78, “Hermes
Mercurius Triplex de vi rerum principiis multisque aliis naturalibus;
partibus quinque; cum prologo de tribus Mercuriis.”

Bodleian 464, 1318 A. D., fols. 151-162r, Hermetis Trismegisti opuscula
quaedam; primum de 6 rerum principiis, is almost identical.

[685] A _Liber mercurii trismegisti de tribus mercuriis_ appears in the
15th century catalogue of the MSS of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury.

[686] Corpus Christi 125, fols. 62-68 (“Liber lunae” is written in the
upper margin of fol. 62), “Hic incipit liber ymaginum tr. ab Hermete
id est Mercurio qui latine prestigium Mercurii appellatur, Helyanin in
lingua Arabica ... / ... Explicit liber lune de 28 mansionibus lune
translatus ab Hermete.”

Digby 228, 14th century, fols. 54v-55v, incomplete. Macray describes it
as “‘Liber lune’; tractatus de 28 mansionibus et 28 imaginibus lunae,
et de 54 angelis ‘qui serviunt ymaginibus.’”

Florence II-iii-214, 15th century, fol. 8-, “Dixit Hermes huius libri
editor, lustravi plures imaginum”; fol. 9-, “Hec sunt ymagines septem
planetarum et characteres eorum”; fols. 9-15, “liber ymaginum lune”....
fols. 33-43, “Liber planetarum inventus in libris Hermetis.”

[687] The Incipit, however, which Albert gave for Hermes’ _Liber
praestigiorum_, namely, “Qui geometriae aut philosophiae peritus,
expers astronomiae fuerit,” identifies it with Thebit ben Corat’s work
on images.

[688] See Florence II-iii-214, fols. 8-9, already listed with
_Incipits_ among the MSS of the _Liber lune_ on p. 223, note 1 above.
Also Bodleian 463, 14th century, written in Spain, fol. 77v, “Dixit
hermes editor huius libri lustranti plures imaginum (?) scientias
invenit.” The work is mutilated at the end, as a leaf has been torn
out between those now numbered 77 and 78. See also Sloane 3883, 17th
century, fol. 95-; Arundel 342, fol. 78v, “Hermetis ut fertur liber de
imaginibus et horis.”

[689] Owing to the missing leaf above mentioned only the latter part
of the _Liber Toc_ is now contained in Bodleian 463. Sloane 3883,
fols. 96r-99, “Liber Toc; et vocatur liber veneni (_sic_), et liber de
lapidibus veneris. Dixit Toc Graecus observa Venerem cum perveniret ad
pliades et coniuncta fuerit.” In the text and Explicit, however, the
author’s name is often spelled Toz. This MS seems to be directly copied
from Bodleian 463, for not only is it preceded by the Hermes on images
for the seven planets and also by an “Instructio ptholomei” which deals
with the subject of astrological images, but furthermore it exactly
reproduces its text, down even to such a manuscript copyist’s pi as “ad
dumtanpo itulia” for “alicui ad potandum.”

[690] Arundel 377, fol. 100v, “Thoz Grecus Liber Veneris.”

[691] _Spec. astron._, cap. 11 (Borgnet, X, 641), “Toz Graeci, de
stationibus ad cultum Veneris” opening “Commemoratio historiarum”; “de
quatuor speculis eiusdem” opening “Observa Venerem cum pervenerit ad
Pleiades”;--this is the Incipit of our treatise in Sloane 3883, but the
title does not seem to fit very well; perhaps Albert, who says that he
last looked at these bad books long ago and then with abhorrence, so
that he is not sure he always has the titles and Incipits exact, has
exchanged the Incipit with that of the third treatise, “de imaginibus
veneris,” which opens, “Observabis Venerem cum intrabit Taurum.”

[692] _De universo_ II, ii, 96 (p. 895, ed. 1591), “Thot grecus in
libro quern scripsit de cultu veneris dixit quandam stationem cultus
illius obtinere ab ipsa venere colentes septem qui illi et veneri

[693] Math. 8 in the catalogue of 1412 A. D., Liber Toz Greci continens
50 capitula de stacionibus planetarum.

[694] II, 30.

[695] II, iii, 3.

[696] BN 15127, fols. 1-100, Toz Graeci philosophi nominatissimi
expositio super libros salomonis de secretis secretorum ad Roboam.

[697] Wolfenbüttel 3338, 17th century, 43 fols.

[698] Vienna 11267, 17-18th century, fols. 2-31.



 Question of the origin of the work--Its
 prefaces--Arrangement of the text--Virtues of a tree--Feats
 of magic--An incantation to an eagle--Alchiranus--Treatises
 on seven, twelve, and nineteen herbs--Belenus.

[Sidenote: Question of the origin of the work.]

The virtues, especially medicinal, of plants and animals comprise the
contents of a work in Latin of uncertain date and authorship, usually
called the _Kiranides_ of Kiranus, King of Persia.[699] Thomas Browne,
in his _Pseudodoxia Epidemica_ or _Inquiry into Vulgar Errors_,
included in his list of “authors who have most promoted popular
conceits, ... _Kiranides_, which is a collection out of Harpocration
the Greek and sundry Arabick writers delivering not only the Naturall
but Magicall propriety of things, a work as full of vanity as variety,
containing many relations, whose invention is as difficult as their
beliefs, and their experiments sometime as hard as either.”[700] The
work purports to be a translation from the Greek version which in
its turn was from the Arabic,[701] and Berthelot affirms[702] that
in antiquity _Kiranides_ was cited by Galen and by Olympiodorus, the
historian and alchemist of the early fifth century, while Kroll cites
a Greek manuscript at Paris as ascribing the third book of _Kiranides_
to Hermes Trismegistus.[703]

[Sidenote: Its prefaces.]

The preface of the medieval Latin translator is by “a lowly cleric”
who addresses some ecclesiastical or scholastic superior, possibly the
Chancellor at Paris.[704] He marvels that the mind of his patron, which
has penetrated beyond the seven heavens to contemplate supernatural
things above our sphere, should nevertheless not disdain an interest
in the most lowly of terrene “experiments.” The master has asked him
to translate this medical book from Greek into Latin, a task easier
to ask than to execute. There are several Greek versions of it, all
professedly translations from some oriental original, but the volume
which his patron gave him to translate into Latin is that translated
into Greek at Constantinople in 1168[705] or 1169[706] by order of the
Byzantine emperor, Manuel Comnenus, whom we shall also find associated
with the _Letter of Prester John_ of which we shall treat in the next
chapter. The translator speaks of the work as _The Book of Natural
Virtues, Complaints, and Cures_, but adds that it is a compilation from
two other books, namely, _The Experience of the Kiranides of Kiranus,
King of Persia_, and _The Book of Harpocration[707] of Alexandria to
his Daughter_. There then follows the preface of Harpocration to his
daughter, which tells of a certain city and of encountering an aged
sage there, of great towers and of precious writing on a column which
Harpocration proceeds to transcribe. We are given to understand that
the original was written in “antique archaic Syriac” and was as old as
the Euphrates.

[Sidenote: Arrangement of the text.]

The text is divided into four books, each arranged alphabetically.
The first book subdivides into “Elements.” For example, _Elementum
XII_ is devoted to a tree, a bird, a stone, and a fish, each of which
begins with the letter M. Most, however, of the virtues and medicinal
prescriptions which follow have to do with the tree or herb only. The
second book treats of beasts or quadrupeds, the third of birds, and the
fourth of fish.

[Sidenote: Virtues of a tree.]

Much superstition and magical procedure is found scattered through,
or better, crowded into, the book. For instance, in a medicinal
application of the cyme of the tree Μορέα, one is to face the southwest
wind, use two fingers of the left hand to remove the cyme, then look
behind one toward the east, wrap the cyme in purple or red silk
(_vera?_), and touch the patient with it or bind it about her. In
another recipe the fruit of this tree is to be compounded in varying
proportions with such substances as an Indian stone and the tips of
the wings of crows and is then to be stirred with a crow’s feather
until the mixture is “soft and sticky.” In a third prescription a
stone engraved with an image of the fish mentioned under the letter
M--μόρμυρος, and enclosed in an iron box, is to be combined with the
“eyes” (buds?) of the tree _Morea_ as an amulet against certain ills.

[Sidenote: Feats of magic.]

In some cases the end sought as well as the procedure employed is
magical rather than medicinal. In another chapter of the first book,
for example, the reader is instructed how to make a _licinium_ or
combustible compound in whose light those present will appear to one
another like flaming demons. Or in book two the reader is told that
wearing the dried tongue of a weasel inside his socks will close the
mouths of his enemies. The weasel’s testicles, right and left, are used
as charms to stimulate and prevent conception respectively.

[Sidenote: An incantation to an eagle.]

Incantations are employed in connection with the eagle, the first of
forty-four birds taken up in the third book. Catch one, collect the
dung it makes during the first day and night of its captivity, then
bind its feet and beak and whisper in its ear, “Oh, eagle, friend of
man, I am about to slay you for the cure of every infirmity. I conjure
you by the God of earth and sky and by the four elements that you
efficaciously work each and every cure for which you are oblated.”
The eagle is then decapitated with a sword composed entirely of iron,
all its blood is carefully caught in a bowl, its heart and entrails
are removed and placed in wine, and other directions observed. The
discussion of the virtues of fish in the fourth and last book is
essentially identical in character with the examples already given for
plants, birds, and beasts.

[Sidenote: Alchiranus.]

In a sixteenth century manuscript at Venice[708] is a Latin version
which would seem to be translated from the Arabic since it gives the
author’s name as Alchiranus, although some scholiast has interpolated
and added to the words of this author and of Harpocration. As described
by Valentinelli the arrangement into books is the same as that which we
have noted. Valentinelli also was impressed by the fact that “medical
substances are used to produce not merely physical but moral effects,
such as prescience of the future, dispelling demons and evil phantoms,
avoiding shipwreck by binding the heart of a _foca_ to the mast of
the vessel; discovering what sort of life a woman has led, becoming
invisible, averting storms, perils, wild beasts, robbers.” And further
that “the efficacy of the medicaments is dependent upon their mode of
preparation or application, at the rising or setting of the sun, at the
waning or waxing of the moon, by uttering certain words or engraving

[Sidenote: Treatises on seven, twelve, and nineteen herbs.]

The Latin translator of the Kiranides says that it should be preceded
by the book of Alexander the Great concerning seven herbs and the
seven planets, and by the Mystery of Thessalus to Hermes about twelve
herbs for the twelve signs of the zodiac and seven herbs for the seven
stars. And in what is left of the preface to the latter treatise in
an Erfurt manuscript we are told that after discovering the volumes
of the Kyranides the writer found also in the city of Troy the
present treatise enclosed in a monument along with the bones of the
first king named Kyrannis.[710] The first treatise on seven herbs,
however, seems to be more often ascribed in the manuscripts to an
Alexius Affricus[711] or Flaccus Africanus[712] than to Alexander the
Great.[713] Alexius or Flaccus seems to address his work to a Claudius
or Glandiger of Athens. The work of Thessalus, whose name is sometimes
corrupted to Tesalus or Texilus, and whose work is variously styled of
twelve or of nineteen herbs, usually is found with the other treatise
in the manuscripts.[714] It was one of the authorities acknowledged
by Jacobus de Dondis in his _Aggregatio Medicamentorum_, written
in 1355.[715] The treatise on seven herbs of Alexander or Flaccus
Africanus closes with the direction that the herbs should be gathered
from the twenty-first to twenty-seventh day of the moon, with Mercury
rising during the entire first hour of the day. As they are plucked,
the passion of our Lord should be mentioned, and they should be
preserved in barley or wheat. But one manuscript adds, “But do not put
credulity in them beyond due measure.”[716] We have, of course, already
met with similar treatises ascribed to Enoch and Hermes.[717]

[Sidenote: Belenus.]

The Belenus, as whose disciple Flaccus Africanus is represented, is
also the reputed author of a work on astrological images found in
several manuscripts of the British Museum.[718] Albertus Magnus in the
_Speculum astronomiae_ attributed to Belenus two reprehensible books
of necromantic images.[719] The _Turba philosophorum_, a medieval
work of alchemy consisting in large measure of Latin re-translation
of Arabic versions from Greek alchemists, also cites a Belus or
Belinus. The name is believed to be a corruption from Apollonius of
Tyana, with whom Apollonius of Perga, the mathematician, is perhaps
also confused.[720] One of the _Incipits_ of the tracts listed in the
_Speculum astronomiae_ is, “Said Belenus who is also called Apollo.”
However, many medieval Latin manuscripts attribute works to Apollonius
under that name, as in the case of a work on the Notory Art which we
shall mention in another chapter.[721]


[699] I know of no very early printed editions, but have consulted a
copy published at Leipzig in 1638, and two MSS, Ashmole 1471, late 14th
century, fols. 143v-167r, and Arundel 342, 14th century, in an Italian
hand. The work is also contained either _in toto_ or brief excerpt in
several Sloane MSS, and was printed in English in 1685 as _The Magick
of Kiranus_. See also Wolfenbüttel 1014, 15th century, fol. 102, _De
libro Kyranidis Kyrani, regis Persarum_. I have not seen P. Tannery,
_Les Cyranides_, in _Congrès international d’histoire des sciences_,
Geneva, 1904.

[700] I, 8.

[701] See Black’s description of Ashmole 1471, “Translator qui libros
tres operis huius ... e Gracca versione (ex Arabico textu anno 377
facta) ... Latinos fecit.”

[702] Berthelot (1885) p. 47.

[703] Article _Hermes Trismegistus_ in PW 798.

[704] Ashmole 1471, fols. 143v-167r, “Incipit liber Kirannidarum in
quo premittitur tale prohemium. Prudentissimo domino Magistro Ka.
Parissen. infimus clericus salutem.” The translator’s address to his
patron sounds a little like Hugh of Santalla, but a date after 1168 is
rather late either for Hugh or the anonymous Sicilian translator of the
Almagest, whom the association in this case with Paris also tends to
preclude. Possibly the translator may be Philip, the cleric of Tripoli,
who speaks of himself in a similarly humble style, and of whom we shall
speak in the next two chapters.

[705] According to the printed text of 1638.

[706] Ashmole 1471, “_anno Christi_ 1280 _aliter_ 1169.”

[707] Harpocration is cited by Galen: see Kühn XII, 629, “ad aures
purulentas Harpocration.”

[708] S. Marco XIV, 37, fols. 11-73 Alchirani, liber de proprietatibus
rerum. Liber physicalium virtutum, compassionum et curationum,
collectus ex libris duobus.

[709] _Bibliotheca Manuscripta ad S. Marci Venetiarum, Codices MSS
Latini_, V (1872) 109-10 ....“medicamina proponuntur ad effectus
non tantum physicos sed et morales progignendos. Eiusmodi sunt ad
praescienda futurorum; ad fugandos daemones et phantasmata mala; ad
naufragium evitandum, dummodo cor focae in arbore navis ligetur; ad
sciendum quid mulier egerit in vita sua; ad corpus invisible reddendum;
ad avertendum tempestates, pericula, feras, latrones. Medicaminum autem
efficacitas pendet ab eorum confectione vel applicatione, in ortu vel
occasu solis, sub augmento aut diminutione lunae, verbis quibusdam
prolatis vel lapidibus insculptis.”

[710] Amplon. Quarto 217, No. 5, “Post antiquarum kyrannidarum volumina
... inveni in civitate troiana in monumento reclusum presentem libellum
cum ossibus primi regis kyrannis qui compendium aureum intitulatur eo
quod per discussionem (or distinctionem?) factam a maiorum kyrannidarum
volumine diligenter compilatum et studio vehementi tractat de vii
herbis vii planetis attributis secundum illas impressiones.” See also
Vienna 5289, 15th century, fol. 21, “Tractatus de septem herbis et
septem planetis qui dicitur inventus in ciuitate Trojana in monumento
primi Regis Kyrani” sive “aureum compendium.”

[711] Ashmole 1450, 15th century, fol. 31v, “Incipit quidam tractatus
de vii herbis vii planetis attributis. Alexius Affricus, discipulus
Belbeis, Claudio Artheniensi epylogiticis studium continuare et finem
cum laude. Post etiam antiquorum Kirannidarum volumina”; only the first
page of the treatise now remains in this MS.

All Souls 81, 15-16th century, fols. 133v-45, “De virtutibus et
operationibus septem herbarum secretarum per ordinem, et quomodo per
eas fiunt mirabilia”; the treatise, however, here appears in English
and by “Alaxus Affrike, disciple of Robert Claddere of the worthye

CLM 405, 14-15th century, fol. 98, Fracii Africii liber de vii herbis
vii planetis attributis.

[712] Amplon. Q. 217, 14th century, fols. 51-54, Incipit tractatus
de vii herbis vii planetis attributis Flacti Africani discipuli
Belbenis.... Glandegrio Atthoniensi epylogitico studium.

Sloane 1754, 14th century, fols. 45-57, “Flacius Affricus discipulus
Bellenis Glandigero Atthonensi epilogitico.”

Sloane 75, 15th century, fols. 131-2, “Inquit Flaccus Affricanus
discipulus Beleni septem sunt herbe.”

See also Sloane 73, fols. 4-7; Sloane 3092, 14th century, fols. 2-6.

Berlin 900 (Latin Octavo 42), anno 1510, Compendium aureum des Flaccius

[713] Ashmole 1448, 15th century, pp. 44-45, “Virtutes septem herbarum
et septem planetarum secundum Alexandrum imperatorem.”

Vienna 3124, 15th century, fol. 49, Alexander is given as the author in
the catalogue, but I do not know if the name actually appears in the MS.

[714] Berlin Folio 573, fol. 22, Liber Thesali philosofi de virtutibus
19 herbarum.

Amplon. Quarto 217, #5.

Montpellier 277, 15th century.

Vienna 3124, 15th century, fols. 49-53, Texili, “Liber secretorum
de virtutibus 12 herbarum secundum influentiam quam recipiunt a 12
celestibus signis.”

Judging by their varying length, I should imagine that some of the MSS
listed in the preceding notes contain the Thessalus also.

[715] “Tesalus in secretis de xii herbis per signa celi et de vii
secundum planetas.”

[716] Digby 147, 14th century, fol. 106.

[717] See above chapters 13, 45.

[718] Royal 12-C-XVIII, 14th century (?), Baleni de imaginibus.

Sloane 3826, 17th century, fols. 100v-101, Liber Balamini sapientis de
sigillis planetarum.

Sloane 3848, 17th century, fols. 52-8, 59-62, liber sapientis Balemyn
de ymaginibus septem planetarum.

[719] _Opera_ ed. Borgnet, X, 641, “Belenus, liber de horarum opere,
‘Dixit Belenus qui et Apollo dicitur, imago....;’ liber de quatuor
imaginibus ab aliis separatis, ‘Differentia in qua fiunt imagines

[720] Berthelot (1893) I, 257-8.

[721] See below, chapter 49, pp. 281-3.



 Medieval notions of the marvels of India--India’s
 real contribution to knowledge--The legend of Prester
 John--Miracles of the Apostle Thomas--Otto of Freising
 on Prester John--Prester John’s letter to the Emperor
 Manuel--Marvels recounted by Prester John--Additional
 marvels in later versions--The letter of Pope Alexander
 III--Philip, the papal physician.

[Sidenote: Medieval notions of the marvels of India.]

In a twelfth century manuscript at Berlin a treatise on precious stones
and their medicinal and other marvelous virtues which is ascribed to
St. Jerome,[722] opens with a prologue describing a voyage to India,
the home of the carbuncle, emerald, and other gems, and the land of
mountains of gold guarded by dragons, griffins, and other monsters.
According to this prologue the navigation of the Red Sea is extremely
dangerous and takes six months, while another full year is required to
cross the ocean to India and the Ganges.

India was still a distant land of wonders and home of magic to the
minds of medieval men, as it had been in the _Life of Apollonius of
Tyana_, and as even to-day many westerners are credulous concerning
its jugglers, fakirs, yogis, and theosophists. So William of Auvergne,
bishop of Paris, writing in the first half of the thirteenth century,
states that feats of magic are very seldom wrought in the Europe of
his time. For one thing, as Origen and other early church fathers had
already explained, the demons since the coming of Christ to earth
had largely ceased their magical activities in Christian lands. But
another reason was that the materials for working natural magic, the
gems and herbs and animals with marvelous virtues, were seldom found
in European lands. In India and other countries adjacent to it,
on the contrary, such materials were abundant. Hence natural magic
still flourished there and it was a land of many experimenters and of
skilful marvel-workers.[723] Similarly Albertus Magnus, discussing the
marvelous powers of astrological images, states that the best gems upon
which to engrave them are those from India.[724] Costa ben Luca says in
his work on physical ligatures that doctors in India are firm believers
in the efficacy of incantations and adjurations; and about 1295 Peter
of Abano speaks in his _Phisionomia_ of the wise men of India as
prolix on astrological themes. Medieval geomancies, too, often claim a
connection with India.[725]

[Sidenote: India’s real contribution to knowledge.]

It should also be kept in mind, however, that medieval men believed
that they derived from India learning which seems to us even to-day as
sound and useful as it did to them then; for example, the Hindu-Arabic
numerals.[726] Leonardo of Pisa, the great arithmetician of the early
thirteenth century, tells us in the preface to his _Liber Abaci_[727]
how, summoned as a boy to join his father who was a customs official
at a trading station in Algeria, he was introduced to the art of
reckoning “by a marvelous method through the nine figures of the
Indians.” Thus we see that India’s marvels were not always false.
Later he traveled in Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily, and Provence and
studied their various methods of reckoning, but vastly preferred the
Indian method to all others, returned to a more intensive study of it,
and developed it further by additions from Euclid and contributions
of his own. Not always, it is true, were medieval mathematicians as
favorable to Indian methods as this. Jordanus Nemorarius in one passage
characterizes an Indian theorem as “nothing but mere credulity without
demonstration.”[728] But to return to the natural marvels of India.

[Sidenote: The legend of Prester John.]

In the extraordinary accounts of Prester John,[729] which are first
met in the twelfth century and were added to with succeeding centuries
and which had great currency from the start, as the number of extant
manuscripts shows, the natural marvels of India vie in impressiveness
and wonderment with the power of Prester John himself and with the
miracles of the Apostle Thomas.

[Sidenote: Miracles of the Apostle Thomas.]

Odo, Abbot of St. Rémy from 1118 to 1151, states in a letter in
response to the inquiry of a Count Thomas what had happened when
he was recently in Rome. Byzantine ambassadors introduced to the
pope an archbishop of India who had already had the extraordinary
and disconcerting experience of having to return a third time to
Constantinople for a new prince for his country, each previous
Byzantine nominee having died on his hands. This archbishop said that
the body of the Apostle Thomas was preserved in his country in a church
rich in treasure and ornaments and surrounded by a river fordable only
at the time of the saint’s festival. On that solemn occasion the
Apostle’s body was shown to believers and the Apostle would raise his
arm and open his hand to receive their gifts, but close it and refuse
to receive any gift offered by a heretic. When this tale reached the
pope’s ears he forbade the archbishop to disseminate such falsehoods
further under pain of anathema, but the archbishop finally convinced
the pope by taking an oath on the holy gospels.

Another longer and anonymous account has come down from manuscripts
going back to the twelfth century of the visit of a Patriarch John of
India to Rome under Pope Calixtus II (1119-1124). It is this account
which is often joined in the manuscripts and early printed editions
with the _Letter of Prester John_ of which we shall presently speak.
In this account the Patriarch John told “of memorable matters of his
Indian region that were unknown to the Romans,” such as of the gold and
gems in the river Physon which flows from Paradise, “but especially
of the miracles of the most holy Apostle Thomas.” Without going into
further details, such as that of the miraculous balsam lamp, which
differ a good deal from Odo’s account, it may be noted that in this
account the Apostle’s hand ministers the Eucharist to believers and
refuses it to infidels and sinners.

[Sidenote: Otto of Freising on Prester John, the descendant of the

We have progressed from an archbishop of India to a Patriarch John; we
now come to Prester John the monarch. The historian, Otto of Freising,
learned in 1145 from a Syrian bishop at Rome of a great victory
recently gained over the Moslems by “a certain John who lived beyond
Persia and Armenia in the extreme East, a king and priest, since he was
a Christian by race but a Nestorian ... Prester John, for so they are
wont to call him.” He was of the ancient progeny of the Magi mentioned
in the Gospel, ruled the same races as they, and enjoyed such glory and
abundance that he was said to use only an emerald scepter. After his
victory he would have come to the aid of the crusaders at Jerusalem,
but could not cross the Tigris, although he marched north along its
eastern bank and waited for some years in the hope that it would freeze

[Sidenote: Prester John’s letter to the Emperor Manuel.]

This Prester John was to be heard from again, however, for in the same
century there appeared a letter purporting to have been written by
him to the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel (1143-1180).[731] It is in this
letter that the natural and artificial marvels of India and adjacent
territories--Prester John’s dominion reaches from farther India to the
Babylonian desert--are especially recorded. This letter even in its
earliest and briefest form seems without doubt a western forgery and
bears the marks of its Latin origin,[732] since despite the use of a
few Greek ecclesiastical and official terms[733] and the attempt to
rehearse unheard-of wonders, the writer indulges in a sneer at Greek
adoration of the emperor[734] and is unable to conceive of Prester
John except as a feudal overlord[735] with the usual kings, dukes and
counts, archbishops, bishops and abbots under him. The letter then
is of value chiefly as showing us what ideas prevailed concerning
India and the orient in the Latin world of the twelfth and succeeding
centuries, for the letter received many additions and variations, was
translated into the vernacular languages, and appeared in print before
1500.[736] In the following account of its contents, however, I shall
try to describe the letter as it existed in the twelfth century, after
which I shall mention what seem to be interpolations of the thirteenth
or later centuries.

[Sidenote: Marvels recounted by Prester John.]

But while different copies of the work vary, all have the same general
character. Prester John tells what a mighty and Christian potentate he
is and describes his marvelous palaces and contrivances or the natural
marvels, strange beasts and serpents, monstrous races of men, potent
herbs, stones, and fountains, to be found in the lands owning his sway.
In one province is the herb _assidios_ which enables its bearer to rout
an impure spirit and force him to disclose his name and whence he
comes. “Wherefore impure spirits in that land dare not take possession
of anyone.”[737] A fountain flows from Mount Olympus not three days’
journey from Paradise whence Adam was expelled. Three draughts from it
taken fasting insure one henceforth from all infirmity, and however
long one may live, one will seem henceforth but thirty years of
age.[738] Then there are some little stones which eagles often bring
to Prester John’s territories and which worn on the finger preserve or
restore the sight, or if consecrated with a lawful incantation, make
one invisible and dispel envy and hatred and promote concord.[739]
After a description of a sea of sand in which there are various kinds
of edible fish and a river of stones, Prester John soon mentions the
worms which in his language are called salamanders, who cannot live
except in fire, and from whose skins he has robes made which can be
cleansed only by fire.[740] After some boasting concerning the absence
of poverty, crime, and falsehood in his country and about the pomp and
wealth with which he goes forth to war, Prester John then comes to the
description of his palace, which is similar to that which the Apostle
Thomas built for Gundaphorus, King of India. Its gates of sardonyx
mixed with _cornu cerastis_ (horn of the horned serpents) prevent the
secret introduction of poison; a couch of sapphire keeps John chaste;
the square before the palace where judicial duels are held is paved
with onyx “in order that the courage of the fighters may be increased
by the virtue of the stone.”[741] Near this square is a magic mirror
which reveals all plots in the provinces subject to Prester John or
in adjacent lands.[742] In some manuscripts of the twelfth century is
a description of another palace which before Prester John’s birth his
father was instructed in a dream to build for his son. One feature
of it is that no matter how hungry one may be on entering it, he
always comes out feeling as full as if he had partaken of a sumptuous

[Sidenote: Additional marvels in later versions.]

To such marvels in the early versions of the _Letter of Prester
John_ were added others in the course of the thirteenth century
and later middle ages:--the huge man-eating ants who mined gold by
night;[744] the land where men lived on manna, a substance which we
shall find somewhat similarly mentioned by Michael Scot and Thomas of
Cantimpré;[745] the tale, which we shall also hear from Roger Bacon,
of men who tame flying dragons by their incantations and magic, saddle
and bridle them, and ride them through the air;[746] the five marvelous
stones that froze or heated or reduced to an even state of temperature
or made light or dark everything within a radius of five miles; the
second five stones, of which two were unconsecrated and turned water to
milk or wine, while three were consecrated and would respectively cause
fish to congregate, wild beasts to follow one, and, sprinkled with hot
lion’s blood, produce a conflagration which could only be quenched by
sprinkling the stone with hot dragon’s blood;[747] the marvelous mill
operated by the occult virtue of the stone adamant;[748] the wonderful
tree on which the wonderful healing apple grew;[749] the marvelous
chapel of glass, always just big enough for as many persons as entered
it;[750] and the stone and the fountain that served as fireless
heaters.[751] In another case a marvel is wrought by stone and fountain
combined. Two old men guard a large stone and admit to its hollow only
Christians or those who desire to become Christians. If this profession
of faith is genuine, the water in the hollow which is usually only four
fingers deep thrice rises above the head of the person admitted, who
thereupon emerges recovered from all sickness.[752]

[Sidenote: The letter of Pope Alexander III.]

How real Prester John was to the men of the twelfth century may be
seen from the fact that Pope Alexander III on September 27, 1177,
addressed from the Rialto in Venice a letter to him or to some actual
eastern potentate whom he had confused with him.[753] The Pope does not
expressly mention Prester John’s letter to Manuel but says that he has
heard of him from many persons and common report, and more especially
from “Master Philip, our friend and physician,” who had talked “with
great and honourable men of your kingdom,” by whom he had been informed
of their ruler’s desire for a church and altar at Jerusalem. It is this
Philip whom the Pope now sends with his letter to Prester John and to
instruct him in the doctrine of the Roman church. But it is a long and
laborious journey involving many hardships and vicissitudes and the
traversing of many countries with barbarous and unknown languages.

[Sidenote: Philip, the papal physician.]

Whether Philip ever succeeded in delivering the letter is not known and
he has himself been regarded as a mysterious personage of whom nothing
further was known.[754] I would suggest, however, that, as he seems to
have been conversant with Syria and the Holy Land, he may have been
the Philip of whose translation of the _Secret of Secrets_ of the
Pseudo-Aristotle we shall treat in the next chapter, a work which he
found in Antioch and dedicated to the bishop of Tripoli. Or, if we do
not meet this particular Philip again, we shall find in close relations
with other popes other physicians whose names are prominent in the
natural and occult science of the age.


[722] Berlin 956, 12th century, fols. 24-25.

[723] _Gulielmi Alverni ... Opera Omnia_, 1591, p. 1003, _De universo_,
II, iii, 23.

[724] _Mineral._ II, iii, 4.

[725] One condemned at Paris in 1277 began, “The Indians have
believed....”; two in a Harleian MS 2404 are called _Indeana_; a third,
part Latin and part French, in Sloane MS 314 of the 15th century,
opens, “This is the Indyana of Gremmgus which is called the daughter
of astronomy and which one of the sages of India wrote.” See also CU
Magdalene 27 (F. 4. 27, Haenel 23), late 14th century, fols. 72-88,
“Hec est geomentia Indiana que vocatur filia Ast ... quam fecit unius
(_sic_) sapientum Indie....”

[726] See D. E. Smith and L. C. Karpinski, _The Hindu-Arabic Numerals_,
Boston, 1911; S. R. Benedict, _A Comparative Study of the Early
Treatises introducing into Europe the Hindu Art of Reckoning_, Concord,
1914; L. C. Karpinski, “Two Twelfth Century Algorisms,” _Isis_, III
(1921) 396-413. For “newly discovered evidence showing that the Hindu
numerals were known to and justly appreciated by the Syrian writer
Severus Sebokht, who lived in the second half of the seventh century,”
see F. Nau in _Journal asiatique_, 1910, and J. Ginsburg, “New Light on
our Numerals,” in the _Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society_,
XXIII (1917) 366-9. On the question of the debt of Arabic algebra to
India, especially in the case of Muhammad. b. Musa al-Hwarazmi, who
was also an astrologer, see J. Ruska _Zur ältesten arabischen Algebra
und Rechenkunst_, in _Sitzb. d. Heidelberger Akademie d. Wiss. Philos.
hist. Klasse_, 1917.

[727] _Scritti di Leonardo Pisano_, vol. I, 1857.

[728] _Jordani Nemorarii Geometria vel De triangulis libri IV_, ed. M.
Curtze, Thorn, 1887, pp. 43-44.

[729] A good brief summary of the results of d’Avezac, Zarncke, and
others will be found in Sir Henry Yule’s article on “Prester John,” EB.
For the various texts to be here considered, with later interpolations
and additions distinguished, see Friedrich Zarncke, _Der Priester
Johannes_, in _Abhandl. d. Kgl. Sächs. Gesells. d. Wiss._ VII (1879),
627-1030; VIII (1883) 1-186.

[730] In Yule (1903) I, 231-7, Cordier discusses whether this monarch
was Gurkhan of Kara Khitai (as urged by d’Avezac and Oppert) who “in
1141 came to the aid of the King of Khwarizmi against Sanjar, the
Seljukian sovereign of Persia, ... and defeated that prince with great
slaughter,” or whether he was “John Orbelian ... for years the pride of
Georgia and the hammer of the Turks” (as urged by Professor Bruun of

[731] For its text, with interpolations distinguished from the
original text, see Zarncke (1879) 909-924. Some of the passages which
Zarncke regards as interpolations are, however, already found in
12th century MSS. On the other hand, his text does not include all
the interpolations and variations to be found even in the MSS which
he describes. For instance, in BN 6244A, fol. 130r, just before the
description of the herb _assidios_, occurs a passage which may be
translated as follows: “You should know also that in our country we do
not need doctors, for we have precious stones, herbs, fountains, and
trees of so great virtue that they prevail against every infirmity and
against poisons and wounds. And we have books which instruct us and
distinguish between the potencies and virtues of the herbs.” In this MS
Prester John is also more voluble on the theme of his devotion to the
Christian faith than appears in Zarncke’s text, and (fols. 127v-128r)
repeats the story of the administration of the Eucharist by the hand
of the body of the Apostle Thomas. Zarncke lists about one hundred MSS
of the letter but fails to use or mention any of those in the Bodleian
Library where, for instance, Digby 158, fols. 2r-5v, is of the twelfth
century. Another twelfth century MS not in his list is Paris Arsenal
379A, fol. 34. Zarncke also does not list the MSS of the letter at
Madrid and Wolfenbüttel.

[732] In many MSS. nothing is said of its being a translation or when
or by whom it was translated; others state that it was translated into
Greek and Latin, or, in at least one case, from Arabic into Latin.
Only from the thirteenth century on, I think, is Christian, Archbishop
of Mainz, sometimes said to have translated it from Greek into Latin.
Often it is simply stated that Manuel transmitted the letter to the
Emperor Frederick, to whom also it is sometimes represented as sent
direct by Prester John. Sometimes it is to the Pope to whom the letter
comes from Manuel or Prester John.

The statement that Manuel transmitted the letter to the Emperor
Frederick makes one wonder whether Anselm, Bishop of Havelberg
and later of Ravenna, can have had anything to do with it. He was
sent by Frederick on an embassy to Manuel in 1153, which seems to
identify him with the author of a “_Liber de diversitate nature
et persone proprietatumque personalium non tam Latinorum quam ex
Grecorum auctoritatibus extractus_”--CUL 1824 (Qi. vi. 27), beautiful
13th century hand, fols. 129-76,--who states in his preface that he
collected his Greek authorities in Constantinople where he was sent by
Frederick on an embassy to Manuel, and on his return to Germany showed
them to “_Petro venerabili Tusculano episcopo_.”

[733] Such as Apocrisarius and Archimandrite, a word however not
entirely unknown in the west; see Ducange.

[734] “Cum enim hominem nos esse cognoscamus, te Graeculi tui Deum
esse existimant, cum te mortalem et humanae corruptioni subiacere
cognoscamus,” Zarncke (1879) 910.

[735] For instance, the writer twice alludes to the square before
Prester John’s palace where he watches the combatants in judicial duels
or wager of battle, Zarncke (1879) 918, 919.

[736] I have seen a copy in the British Museum (IA.8685), _De
Mirabilibus Indiae_, where the account given Calixtus II of miracles of
the Apostle Thomas is run together with the letter of Prester John.

[737] Zarncke, 912; Digby 158, fol. 2v; BN 2342, fol. 191v; BN 3359,
fol. 144v.

[738] Zarncke, 912-913; MSS as before. This fountain of youth was
little improved upon by another inserted later (Zarncke, 920-21; BN
3359, fol. 146v; not in the other two MSS), which one had to taste
thrice daily on a fasting stomach for three years, three months,
three weeks, three days, and three hours, in order to live and remain
youthful for three hundred years, three months, three weeks, three
days, and three hours.

[739] Zarncke, 913; Digby 158, fol. 3r, etc.

[740] Zarncke, 915; Digby 158, fol. 3v; BN 2342, fol. 192r; BN 3359,
fol. 145r. It will be recalled that Charlemagne is said to have had
such a garment. Pliny discussed both salamanders and asbestos but did
not connect the two. Marco Polo, however, says (I 42, Yule (1903)
I, 212-3), “The real truth is that the salamander is no beast, as
they allege in our part of the world, but is a substance found in
the earth.... Everybody must be aware that it can be no animal’s
nature to live in fire, seeing that every animal is composed of all
four elements.” Polo confirms, however, the report of robes made of
incombustible mineral fibre and cleansed by fire.

[741] Zarncke, 918; Digby 158, fol. 4r; BN 2342, fol. 192r; BN 3359,
fol. 145v.

[742] Zarncke, 919-20; Digby 158, fols. 4v-5r; BN 2342, fol. 192v; BN
3359, fol. 146r.

[743] Zarncke, 920-22; Digby 158 fol. 5v; BN 2342, fol. 192v; BN 3359,
fol. 146r-v.

[744] Zarncke, 911.

[745] _Ibid._, 913. For Michael Scot, see Chapter 51, page 324; for
Thomas of Cantimpré, Chapter 53, Page 393.

[746] Zarncke, 913. For Roger Bacon, see Chapter 61, page 657.

[747] Zarncke, 915-16.

[748] _Ibid._, 918-19.

[749] Zarncke, 921.

[750] _Ibid._, 922.

[751] _Ibid._, 923.

[752] _Ibid._, 914.

[753] Text of the letter in Zarncke, 941-44.

[754] Zarncke, 945, “Der Philippus, den der Papst seinen familiaris
nennt, ist bis jetzt nicht nachgewiesen.”



 Alexander and Aristotle--Spurious writings ascribed
 to Aristotle--Aristotle and experiment--Aristotle and
 alchemy: _Meteorology_ and _On colors_--Works of alchemy
 ascribed to Aristotle--Aristotle and Alexander as
 alchemists--Aristotle and astrology--Astrology and magic
 in the _Theology_ and _De Pomo_ of Aristotle--_Liber de
 causis proprietatum elementorum et planetarum_--Other
 astrological treatises ascribed to Aristotle--Aristotle
 and 250 volumes of the Indians--Works on astrological
 images--And on necromantic images--Alexander as an
 astrologer--Aristotle and spirits--_On plants_ and the
 _Lapidary_--Virtues of gems--Stories of Alexander and
 of Socrates--Alexander’s submarine--Arabian tales of
 Alexander--A magic horn--More stories of Alexander and
 gems--Story of Alexander’s belt--The royal _Lapidary_ of
 Wenzel II of Bohemia--_Chiromancy_ and _Physiognomy_ of
 Aristotle--_The Secret of Secrets_--Its textual history--The
 Latin translations of John of Spain and Philip--Philip’s
 preface--Prominence of occult science--Absence
 of mysticism--Discussion of kingship--Medical
 discussion--Astrology--Story of the two boys--Virtues of
 stones and herbs, incantations and amulets--Thirteenth
 century scepticism--Number and alchemy--The poisonous
 maiden--The Jew and the Magus.

[Sidenote: Alexander and Aristotle.]

In a previous chapter we have seen what a wide currency the legend of
Alexander had both in east and west in the later Roman Empire and early
middle ages, and how with Alexander was associated the magician and
astrologer Nectanebus. We also saw that by about 800 A. D. at least a
separate Letter of Alexander to Aristotle on the Marvels of India was
current in the Latin west, and in the present chapter it is especially
to the Pseudo-Aristotle and his connection with Alexander and India,
rather than to the Pseudo-Callisthenes, that we turn. The tremendous
historical importance of the career of Alexander the Great and of the
writings of Aristotle impressed itself perhaps even unduly upon both
the Arabian and the medieval mind. The personal connection between
the two men--Aristotle was for a time Alexander’s tutor--was seized
upon and magnified. Pliny in his _Natural History_ had stated that
Alexander had empowered Aristotle to send two thousand men to different
parts of the world to test by experience all things on the face of the
earth.[755] This account of their scientific co-operation was enlarged
upon by spurious writings associated with their names like the letter
on the marvels of India.[756] With the introduction into western Europe
in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries of many genuine works of
Aristotle unknown to the early middle ages, which had possessed only
certain of his logical treatises, there also came into circulation a
number of spurious writings ascribed to him.

[Sidenote: Spurious writings ascribed to Aristotle.]

It is not surprising that many spurious works were attributed to
Aristotle in the middle ages, when we remember that his writings came
to them for the most part indirectly through corrupt translations,
and that some writing from so great a master was eagerly looked for
upon every subject in which they were interested. It seemed to them
that so encyclopedic a genius must have touched on all fields of
knowledge and they often failed to realize that in Aristotle’s time
the departments of learning had been somewhat different from their own
and that new interests and doctrine had developed since then. There
was also a tendency to ascribe to Aristotle any work of unknown or
uncertain authorship. At the close of the twelfth century Alexander
Neckam[757] lists among historic instances of envy Aristotle’s holding
back from posterity certain of his most subtle writings, which he
ordered should be buried with him. At the same time he so guarded
the place of his sepulcher, whether by some force of nature or power
of art or prodigy of magic is uncertain, that no one has yet been
able to approach it, although some think that Antichrist will be able
to inspect these books when he comes. Roger Bacon in the thirteenth
century believed that Aristotle had written over a thousand works and
complained bitterly because certain treatises, which were probably
really apocryphal, had not been translated into Latin.[758] Indeed,
some of the works ascribed to Aristotle in the Oriental and Mohammedan
worlds were never translated into Latin, such as the astrological
_De impressionibus coelestibus_ which Bacon mentions, or the Syriac
text which K. Ahrens edited in 1892 with a German translation as
“Das Buch der Naturgegenstände”; or first appeared in Latin guise
after the invention of printing, as was the case with the so-called
_Theology_ of Aristotle,[759] a work which was little more than a
series of extracts from the _Enneads_ of Plotinus.[760] Some treatises
attributed to Aristotle in medieval Latin do not bear especially upon
our investigation, such as _Grammar_ which Grosseteste is said to have
translated from Greek.[761]

[Sidenote: Aristotle and experiment.]

For our purposes the Pseudo-Aristotelian writings may be sub-divided
under seven heads: experiment, alchemy, astrology, spirits, occult
virtues of stones and herbs, chiromancy and physiognomy, and last the
famous _Secret of Secrets_. Under the first of these heads may be put
a treatise on the conduct of waters, which consists of a series of
experiments in siphoning and the like illustrated in the manuscript by
lettered and colored figures and diagrams.[762] In a Vatican manuscript
it is perhaps more correctly ascribed to Philo of Byzantium.

[Sidenote: Aristotle and alchemy: _Meteorology_ and _On colors_.]

From experiment to alchemy is an easy step, for the alchemists
experimented a good deal in the period which we are now considering.
The fourth book of the _Meteorology_ of Aristotle, which, if not a
genuine portion of that work, at least goes back to the third century
before Christ,[763] has been called a manual of chemistry,[764] and
apparently is the oldest such extant. Its doctrines are also believed
to have been influential in the development of alchemy; and there were
passages in this fourth book which led men later to regard Aristotle
as favorable to the doctrine of the transmutation of metals. Gerard of
Cremona had translated only the first three books of the _Meteorology_;
the fourth was supplied from a translation from the Greek made by
Henricus Aristippus who died in 1162; to this fourth book were added
three chapters translated by Alfred of England or of Sareshel from
the Arabic,[765] apparently of Avicenna.[766] These additions of
Alfred from Avicenna discussed the formation of metals but attacked
the alchemists.[767] Vincent of Beauvais[768] and Albertus Magnus[769]
were both aware, however, that this attack upon the alchemists was
probably not by Aristotle. The short treatise _On colors_,[770] which
is included in so many medieval manuscript collections of the works of
Aristotle in Latin,[771] by its very title would suggest to medieval
readers that he had been interested in the art of alchemy, although its
actual contents deal only in small part with dyes and tinctures. Its
form and contents are not regarded as Aristotle’s, but it was perhaps
by someone of the Peripatetic school. Thus works which, if not by
Aristotle himself, at least had been written in Greek long before the
medieval period, gave medieval readers the impression that Aristotle
was favorable to alchemy.

[Sidenote: Works of alchemy ascribed to Aristotle.]

It is therefore not surprising that works of alchemy appeared in
medieval Latin under Aristotle’s name. The names of Plato and Aristotle
had headed the lists of alchemists in Greek manuscripts although no
works ascribed to Aristotle have been preserved in the same.[772]
Berthelot, however, speaks of a pseudo-Aristotle in Arabic,[773] and
in an Oxford manuscript of the thirteenth century under the name of
Aristotle appears a treatise _On the twelve waters of the secret
river_ said to be “translated from Arabic into Latin.”[774] In the
preface the author promises that whoever becomes skilled, adept, and
expert in these twelve waters will never lose hope nor be depressed by
want. He regards this treatise as the chief among his works, since he
has learned these waters by experiment. They are all chemical rather
than medical; a brief “chapter” or paragraph is devoted to each. In
another manuscript at the Bodleian two brief tracts are ascribed
to Aristotle; one describes the seven metals, the other deals with
transmutation.[775] In a single manuscript at Munich both a theoretical
treatise in medicine and alchemy and a _Practica_ are attributed to
Aristotle, and in two other manuscripts he is credited with the _Book
of Seventy Precepts_ which sometimes is ascribed to Geber.[776] Thomas
of Cantimpré cites Aristotle in the _Lumen luminum_ as saying that
the best gold is made from yellow copper ore and the urine of a boy,
but Thomas hastens to add that such gold is best in color rather
than in substance.[777] The translation of the _Lumen luminum_ is
ascribed both to Michael Scot and brother Elias.[778] Aristotle is
quoted several times in _De alchimia_, ascribed to Albertus Magnus,
but only in the later “Additions” to it, where Roger Bacon also is
cited, is the specific title _Liber de perfecto magisterio_ given as
Aristotle’s.[779] Sometimes works of alchemy were very carelessly
ascribed to Aristotle, when it is perfectly evident from the works
themselves that they could not have been written by him.[780]

[Sidenote: Aristotle and Alexander as alchemists.]

The alchemical discoveries and writings ascribed to Aristotle are
often associated in some way with Alexander the Great as well. In one
manuscript John of Spain’s translation of the _Secret of Secrets_ is
followed by a description of the virtues and compositions of four
stones “which Aristotle sent to Alexander the Great.”[781] It seems
obvious that these are philosopher’s stones and not natural gems.
The _Liber ignium_ of Marcus Grecus, composed in the thirteenth or
early fourteenth century, ascribes to Aristotle the discovery of two
marvelous kinds of fires. One, which he discovered while traveling with
Alexander the king, will burn for a year without cessation. The other,
in the composition of which observance of the dog-days is requisite,
“Aristotle asserts will last for nine years.”[782] A collection of
chemical experiments by a Nicholas, of whom we shall have more to
say in a later chapter, gives “a fire which Aristotle discovered
with Alexander for obscure places.”[783] A letter of Aristotle to
Alexander in a collection of alchemical tracts is hardly worth noting,
as it is only seven lines long, but it is interesting to observe that
it cites Aristotle’s _Meteorology_.[784] Perhaps by a mistake one
or two alchemical treatises are ascribed to Alexander rather than

[Sidenote: Aristotle and astrology.]

Aristotle’s genuine works give even more encouragement to the
pretensions of astrology than to those of alchemy. His opinion that
the four elements were insufficient to explain natural phenomena
and his theory of a fifth essence were favorable to the belief in
occult virtue and the influence of the stars upon inferior objects.
In his work on generation[786] he held that the elements alone were
mere tools without a workman; the missing agent is supplied by the
revolution of the heavens. In the twelfth book of the _Metaphysics_ he
described the stars and planets as eternal and acting as intermediaries
between the prime Mover and inferior beings. Thus they are the direct
causes of all life and action in our world. Charles Jourdain regarded
the introduction of the _Metaphysics_ into western Europe at the
opening of the thirteenth century as a principal cause for the great
prevalence of astrology from that time on, the other main cause being
the translation of Arabian astrological treatises.[787] Jourdain did
not duly appreciate the great hold which astrology already had in the
twelfth century, but it is nevertheless true that in the new Aristotle
astrology found further support.

[Sidenote: Astrology and magic in the _Theology_ and _De pomo_ of

Astrology crops out here and there in most of the spurious works
extant under Aristotle’s name, just as it does in medieval learning
everywhere. One section of a dozen pages in the _Theology_ discusses
the influence of the stars upon nature and the working of magic by
making use of these celestial forces and the natural attraction which
things have for one another. It regards artificial magic as a fraud
but natural and astrological magic as a reality. However, as in the
original text of Plotinus which the _Theology_ follows, it is only the
animal soul which is affected by magic and the man of impulse who is
moved thereby; the thinking man can free himself from its influence by
use of the rational soul. In the treatise, _De pomo_,[788] which seems
not to have been translated into Latin until the thirteenth century
under Manfred,[789] Aristotle on his death bed, holding in his hand
an apple from which the treatise takes its title, is represented
as telling his disciples why a philosopher need not fear death and
repudiating the doctrines of the mortality of the soul and eternity
of the universe. He also tells how the Creator made the spheres and
placed lucid stars in each and gave them the virtue of ruling over
this inferior world and causing good and evil and life or death. They
do not, however, do this of themselves, but men at first thought so
and erroneously worshiped the stars until the time of Noah who was the
first to recognize the Creator of the spheres.[790]

[Sidenote: _Liber de causis proprietatum elementorum et planetarum._]

There are also attributed to Aristotle treatises primarily
astrological. A “Book on the Properties of the Elements and of the
Planets” is cited under his name by Peter of Abano at the end of the
thirteenth century in his work on poisons,[791] by Peter d’Ailly in his
_Vigintiloquium_[792] written in 1414, and by Pico della Mirandola,
who declares it spurious, in his work against astrology written at the
close of the fifteenth century. D’Ailly and Pico cite it in regard to
the theory of great conjunctions; Abano, for a tale of Socrates and
two dragons which we shall repeat later. It is probable that all these
citations were from the paraphrase of and commentary on the work by
Albertus Magnus[793] who accepted it as a genuine writing of Aristotle.
We shall consider its contents in our chapter upon Albertus Magnus.

[Sidenote: Other astrological treatises ascribed to Aristotle.]

In a manuscript of the Cotton collection in the British Museum is a
work of some length upon astrology ascribed to Aristotle.[794] After
a discussion of general principles in which the planets, signs, and
houses are treated, there are separate books upon the subjects of
nativities,[795] and of elections and interrogations.[796] In a Paris
manuscript a treatise on interrogations is ascribed in a marginal
heading to “Aristoteles Milesius, a Peripatetic physician.”[797] In
the Cotton Manuscript in commentaries which then follow, and which
are labelled as commentaries “upon the preceding treatise” Ptolemy is
mentioned rather than Aristotle.[798] In an astrological manuscript
of the fifteenth century at Grenoble written in French, works of
Messahala and Zaël translated for Charles V of France are preceded by
“a book of judicial astrology according to Aristotle,” which opens
with “the preface of the last translator,” and is in four parts.[799]
Perhaps both the above-mentioned manuscripts contain, like a third
manuscript at Munich, “The book of judgments which is said by Albert
in his _Speculum_ to be Aristotle’s.”[800] This work also occurs in
a manuscript at Erfurt.[801] Roger Bacon was much impressed by an
astrological treatise ascribed to Aristotle entitled _De impressionibus
coelestibus_, and told Pope Clement IV that it was “superior to
the entire philosophy of the Latins and can be translated by your

[Sidenote: Aristotle and two hundred and fifty volumes of the Indians.]

A treatise found in two manuscripts of the Bodleian Library bears
the titles, _Commentary of Aristotle on Astrology_, and _The book of
Aristotle from two hundred and fifty-five volumes of the Indians,
containing a digest of all problems, whether pertaining to the sphere
or to genethlialogy_.[803] From the text itself and the preface of
Hugo Sanctelliensis, the twelfth century translator from Arabic into
Latin, addressed to his lord, Michael, bishop of Tarazona, we see
that the work is neither entirely by Aristotle nor from the books of
the Indians but is a compilation by someone who draws or pretends to
draw from some 250 or 255 books[804] of the philosophers, including in
addition to treatises by both Aristotle and the Indians, 13 books by
Hermes, 13 by Doronius (Dorotheus?), 4 by Ptolemy, one by Democritus,
two by Plato, 44 by the Babylonians, 7 by Antiochus, and others by
authors whose names are unfamiliar to me and probably misspelled in
the manuscripts. In one of the works of Aristotle of which the present
work is supposed to make use, there are said to have been described the
nativities of twelve thousand men, collected in an effort to establish
an experimental basis for astrology.[805] It is not so surprising that
the present work bears Aristotle’s name, since Hugh had promised his
patron Michael, in the prologue to his translation of the _Geometry_ of
Hanus ben Hanne,[806] that if life endured and opportunity was given he
would next set to work as ordered by his patron, not only upon Haly’s
commentaries on the _Quadripartite_ and _Almagest_ of Ptolemy, but also
upon a certain general commentary by Aristotle on the entire art of

[Sidenote: Works on astrological images.]

The _Secret of Secrets_ of the Pseudo-Aristotle is immediately followed
in one manuscript by chapters or treatises addressed to Alexander and
entitled, _Of ideas and forms_, _Of the impression of forms_, and
_Of images and rings_.[807] The theory, very like that of Alkindi,
is maintained that “all forms are ruled by supercelestial forms
through the spirits of the spheres” and that incantations and images
receive their force from the spheres. The seven planets pass on these
supercelestial ideas and forms to our inferior world. By selecting
proper times for operating one can work good or ill by means of the
rays and impressions of the planets. The scientific investigator
who properly concentrates and fixes intent, desire, and appetite
upon the desired goal can penetrate hidden secrets of secrets and
occult science both universal and particular. The writer goes on to
emphasize the importance of understanding all the different positions
and relationships of the heavenly bodies and also the distribution
of terrestrial objects under the planets. He then describes an
astrological image which will cause men to reverence and obey you, will
repel your enemies in terror, afflict the envious, send visions, and
perform other marvelous and stupefying feats too numerous to mention.

[Sidenote: And on necromantic images.]

As the _Speculum astronomiae_ of Albertus Magnus listed a _Book
of Judgments_ by Aristotle among deserving works of astronomy and
astrology, so in its list of evil books dealing with necromantic
images appear a treatise by Hermes addressed to Aristotle and opening,
“Aristotle said, ‘You have seen me, O Hermes,’” and a treatise ascribed
to Aristotle with the sinister title, _Death of the Soul_, opening,
“Said Aristotle to King Alexander, ‘If you want to perceive.’” This
treatise the _Speculum_ calls “the worst of all” the evil books on
images. Roger Bacon, too, alludes to it by title as filled with
figments of the magicians, but does not name Aristotle as author.[808]
Peter of Abano in his _Lucidator_ follows the _Speculum astronomiae_ in
listing it among depraved, obscene, and detestable works.[809]

[Sidenote: Alexander as an astrologer.]

Alexander himself, as well as Aristotle, had some medieval reputation
as an astrologer. We have already seen[810] in the tenth and eleventh
century manuscripts of the _Mathematica_ of Alhandreus, supreme
astrologer, that “Alexander of Macedon” was more than once cited as an
authority, and that there were also given “Excerpts from the books of
Alexander, astrologer, king,” and a “Letter of Argafalan to Alexander.”
Different from this, moreover, was the _Mathematica_ of Alexander,
supreme astrologer, found in a thirteenth century manuscript, in which
from the movements of the planets through the signs one is instructed
how to foretell prosperous and adverse journeys, abundance and poverty,
misfortune or death of a friend, or to discover stolen articles,
sorceries, buried treasure and so forth.[811] A treatise on seven herbs
related to the seven planets is sometimes ascribed to Alexander,[812]
but perhaps more often to Flaccus Africanus, as we saw in Chapter 46,
and at least once to Aristotle.[813]

[Sidenote: Aristotle and spirits.]

The association of astrological images with spirits of the spheres in
one of the above-mentioned works ascribed to Aristotle has already
brought us to the border-line of our next topic, Aristotle and spirits.
Under this caption may be placed a work found in a fifteenth century
manuscript.[814] It also is in part astrological and is associated
with the name of Hermes as well as of Aristotle. Its title runs, _The
book of the spiritual works of Aristotle, or the book Antimaquis,
which is the book of the secrets of Hermes: wonderful things can
be accomplished by means of this book and ’tis the ancient book of
the seven planets_. The treatise opens, “To every people and clime
pertains a group of spirits.” It then maps out these regions of
different spirits in accordance with the planets and signs of the
zodiac. Apparently this is the same work as that which Hunain ibn
Ishak translated into Arabic and of which he says, “Among the works of
Aristotle which we have found and translated from Greek into Arabic was
_The book of the Causes of Spirituals_ which has Hermes for author....
It is the book in which Aristotle treats of the causes of spirituals,
talismans, the art of their operation, and how to hinder it, ordered
after the seven climates.”[815] It was probably some such spurious work
that William of Auvergne had in mind when he spoke of Aristotle’s boast
that a spirit had descended unto him from the sphere of Venus.[816]

[Sidenote: _On plants_ and the _Lapidary_.]

No genuine work of Aristotle on vegetables or minerals has come down to
us to accompany his celebrated _History of Animals_, but supposititious
writings were soon found by the Arabs to fill this gap. On plants a
brief treatise by Nicolaus Damascenus passed for Aristotle’s. Alfred of
Sarchel translated it from Arabic into Latin,[817] presumably before
the close of the twelfth century, since he dedicated it to Roger of
Hereford, and Albertus Magnus expanded its two short books into seven
long ones in his _De vegetabilibus et plantis_. There also existed
in Arabic a _Lapidary_ ascribed to Aristotle,[818] which we have
heard cited in the ninth century by Costa ben Luca. Ruska believes
the work to be of Syrian and Persian origin,[819] although one Latin
text professes to have been originally translated from Greek into
Syriac.[820] Valentin Rose regarded it as the basis of all subsequent
Arabic mineralogy, but found only two Latin manuscripts of it.[821]
Albertus Magnus in his _Minerals_ confesses that, although he had
sought diligently in divers regions of the world, he had seen only
excerpts from Aristotle’s work. But another writer of the thirteenth
century, Arnold of Saxony, cites translations of Aristotle on stones
both by Dioscorides, which would seem sheer nonsense, and by Gerard,
presumably of Cremona. Gerard’s translation occurs in one of Rose’s
manuscripts; the other seems to give a version translated from the

[Sidenote: Virtues of gems.]

In Gerard’s translation, a work marked by puerile Latin style,
the _Lapidary_ of Aristotle is about equally devoted to marvelous
properties of stones and tales of Alexander the Great. After some
general discussion of stones and their wonderful properties, particular
gems are taken up. The _gesha_ brings misfortune. Its wearer sleeps
poorly, has many worries, many altercations and law-suits. If it is
hung about a boy’s neck, it makes him drivel. “There is great occult
force” in the magnet, and instructions are given how to set water on
fire with it. Several stones possess the property of neutralizing
spells and counteracting the work of demons. With another stone the
Indians make many incantations. Vultures were the first to discover
the virtue of the stone _filcrum coarton_ in hastening delivery. When
a female vulture was near death from the eggs hardening in her body,
the male flew off to India and brought back this stone which afforded
instant relief. Another stone is so soporific that suspended about the
neck it induces a sleep lasting three days and nights, and the effects
of which are thrown off with difficulty even on the fourth day, when
the sleeper will awake but will act as if he were intoxicated and will
still seem sleepier than anyone else. Another stone prevents a horse
from whinnying, if suspended from his neck.

[Sidenote: Stories of Alexander and of Socrates.]

Other gems suggest stories of Alexander. Near the frontier of India
in a valley guarded by deadly serpents whose mere glance was fatal
were many precious gems. Alexander disposed of the serpents by
erecting mirrors in which they might stare themselves to death, and
he then secured the gems by employing the carcasses of sheep in the
manner which we have already heard described by Epiphanius.[822] A
somewhat similar tale is told of Socrates by Albertus Magnus in his
commentary on the pseudo-Aristotelian work on the properties of the
elements and planets.[823] In the reign of Philip of Macedon, who is
himself described as a philosopher and astronomer, the road between
two mountains in Armenia became so poisoned that no one could pass.
Philip vainly inquired the cause from his sages until Socrates came
to the rescue and, by erecting a tower as high as the mountains with
a steel mirror on top of it, saw two dragons polluting the air. The
mere glance of these dragons was apparently not deadly, for men in
air-tight armor went in and killed them. The same story is told by
William of St. Cloud, who composed astronomical tables based upon his
own observations from about 1285 to 1321, in which he detected errors
in the earlier tables of Thebit, Toulouse, and Toledo.[824] In Peter
of Abano’s treatise on poisons,[825] however, although he too cites
the Pseudo-Aristotle _On the causes of the elements_, the mirror has
become a glass cave in which Socrates ensconces himself to observe
the serpents. A _Lapidary_ dedicated to King Wenzel II of Bohemia
tells of Socrates’ killing a dragon by use of quicksilver.[826] That
Socrates also shared the medieval reputation of Aristotle and Plato
for astrology and divination we have already seen from the _Prenostica
Socratis Basilei_.

[Sidenote: Alexander’s submarine.]

Similar to Abano’s tale of Socrates in the glass cave is the story
told a century earlier by Alexander Neckam of Alexander himself. So
sedulous an investigator of nature was the Macedonian, says Neckam,
that he went down in a glass vessel to observe the natures and customs
of the fishes. He would seem to have remained submerged for some time,
since Neckam informs us that he took a cock with him in order to tell
when it was dawn by the bird’s crowing. This primitive submarine had at
least a suggestion of war about it, since Neckam goes on to say that
Alexander learned how to lay ambushes against the foe by observing one
army of fishes attack another. Unfortunately, however, Alexander failed
to commit to writing his observations, whether military or scientific,
of deep-sea life; and Neckam grieves that very few data on the natures
of fishes have come to his attention.[827] We shall hear Roger Bacon
tell of Alexander’s descending to see the secrets of the deep on the
authority of Ethicus.[828]

[Sidenote: Arabian tales of Alexander.]

Neckam’s account differs a good deal from the story as told by the
Arabian historian, Masʿudi, in the tenth century. There we read that,
when Alexander was building the city of Alexandria, monsters came from
the sea every night and overthrew the walls that had been built during
the day. Night watchmen proved of no avail, so Alexander had a box
made ten cubits long and five wide, with glass sides fastened into the
frame work by means of pitch and resin. He then entered the box with
two draughtsmen, who, after it had been let down to the bottom of the
sea, made exact drawings of the monsters, who had human bodies but the
heads of beasts. From these sketches Alexander had images constructed
and placed on pillars, and these magic figures served to keep off the
monsters until the city was completed. But the effect apparently began
to wear off and talismans had to be added on the pillars to prevent the
monsters from coming and devouring the inhabitants, as they had begun
to do again.[829] Another Arab, Abu-Shâker, of the thirteenth century,
repeats a current tradition that Aristotle gave Alexander a box of wax
soldiers which were nailed, with inverted spears and swords and severed
bow-strings, face-downwards in the box, which in its turn was fastened
by a chain. As long as the box remained in Alexander’s possession and
he repeated the formulae which Aristotle taught him whenever he took
the box up or put it down, he would triumph over his foes in war.[830]
This reminds one of the methods of warfare employed by Alexander’s
fabled natural father, Nectanebus.

[Sidenote: A magic horn.]

While we are speaking of military matters, it may be noted that in
a manuscript of the thirteenth century which once belonged to an
Albertus Bohemus or Beham, dean of the church at Padua, and seems to
have been his note-book, we find between the _Secret of Secrets_ of
the Pseudo-Aristotle and a treatise on the significations of the moon
in the signs “a delineation of a brazen horn made with marvelous art
by which Alexander in time of war summoned his army from a distance
of sixty miles.”[831] Such a horn “of Temistius” is mentioned in some
versions of the _Secret of Secrets_.[832]

[Sidenote: More stories of Alexander and gems.]

But to return to other tales of Alexander in the _Lapidary_. Once he
saw afar enchanters and enchantresses who slew and wounded the men of
his army by their diabolical power until Alexander prayed to God, who
revealed two stones which counteracted the sorcery. On another occasion
when by Alexander’s order his barons had carried off certain gems,
during the night following they suffered much insult from demons and
were sore afraid, since sticks and stones were thrown about the camp by
unseen hands and men were beaten without knowing whence the blows came.
It thus became apparent that the demons cherished those gems as their
especial property and were accustomed to perform occult operations with
them of which they did not wish men to learn the secret. Alexander
found that these gems would protect him from any beast, serpent, or
demon, although the nocturnal experience of his barons would scarcely
seem to support this last point. On a third occasion his troops were
held motionless and gazed open-mouthed at certain stones, until a bird
fluttered down and covered the gems with its outstretched wings. Then
Alexander had his followers close their eyes and carry the stones away
under cover and place them on top of the wall of one of his cities so
that no one might scale the wall to spy upon the town.

[Sidenote: Story of Alexander’s belt.]

Yet another curious story of Alexander and a stone is repeated by Peter
of Abano in his work on poisons[833] from a treatise “On the Nature
of Serpents” which he ascribes to Aristotle. Alexander always wore a
certain stone in his belt to give him good luck in his battles, but
on his return from India, while bathing in the Euphrates, he removed
the belt, whereupon a serpent suddenly appeared, bit the stone out of
the belt, and vomited it into the river. Deprived of his talisman,
Alexander presently met his death.[834]

[Sidenote: The royal _Lapidary_ of Wenzel II of Bohemia.]

Another _Lapidary_, printed as Aristotle’s at Merseburg in 1473, is
really a compilation of previous medieval works on the subject with
the addition of some items derived from the personal knowledge or
experience of the author. It was composed “to the honor of almighty God
and the glory and perpetual memory of that virtuous and most glorious
prince, Wenzel II, King of Bohemia” (1278-1305). As the treatise itself
states, “the Lapidary of Aristotle in the recent translation from the
Greek” is only one of its sources along with Avicenna, Constantinus
Africanus, Albertus Magnus, and others.

[Sidenote: _Chiromancy_ and _Physiognomy of Aristotle_.]

Another work which claims Aristotelian authorship only in its title is
the _Chiromancy of Aristotle,_ printed at Ulm in 1490, which quotes
freely from Albertus Magnus and Avicenna. There are also brief tracts
on chiromancy ascribed to Aristotle in manuscripts of the thirteenth or
fourteenth century.[835] Förster has identified Polemon as the author
of the Greek treatise on physiognomy ascribed to Aristotle.[836] The
art of physiognomy of course professed to read character from the
face or other parts of the body, and chiromancy which we have just
mentioned is really a branch of it. In Latin translation the treatise
was accepted as Aristotle’s by such medieval schoolmen as Albertus
Magnus and Duns Scotus. There are many manuscripts of it in the
British Museum, including one which perhaps dates back to the twelfth
century.[837] Its popularity continued long after the invention of
printing, as is shown by separate editions of it brought out at Paris
in 1535 and at Wittenberg in 1538, and by commentaries upon it[838]
published at Paris in 1611, at Bologna in 1621, and at Toulouse in
1636. Besides such separate manuscripts and editions of it, it was also
regularly embodied in the numerous copies of the pseudo-Aristotelian
work to which we next turn.

[Sidenote: _The Secret of Secrets._]

Most widely influential upon the medieval mind of all the spurious
works attributed to Aristotle was _The Secret of Secrets_. Förster
enumerated two hundred and seven Latin manuscripts of it and his
list is probably far from complete.[839] Gaster calls it “The most
popular book of the middle ages.”[840] This is not surprising since
it purports to sum up in concise form what the greatest of ancient
philosophers deemed it essential for the greatest of ancient rulers
to know, and since under the alluring pretense of revealing great
secrets in parable and riddle it really masses together a number of
the best-tested and most often repeated maxims of personal hygiene and
practical philosophy, and some of the superstitions to which men have
shown themselves most inclined. Every European library of consequence
contains a number of copies of it. It was translated into almost
every European language and was often versified, as in Lydgate’s and
Burgh’s _Secrees of old Philisoffres_.[841] Albertus Magnus cited it
as Aristotle’s;[842] Roger Bacon wrote a rather jejune commentary upon
it.[843] It was printed a number of times before 1500.[844]

[Sidenote: Its textual history.]

The _Secrets of Secrets_ is believed to be the outcome of a gradual
process of compilation from very varied sources, and to have reached
something like its present form by the seventh or eighth century of
our era. But its chapters on physiognomy, as we have seen, go back
to Polemon’s treatise, and part of its medical discussion is said
to be borrowed from Diocles Caristes who wrote about 320 B. C. Some
Graeco-Persian treatise is thought to be the basis of its discussion
of kingship. It is also believed to have appropriated bits from
popular literature to its own uses. In Arabic there is extant both
a longer and a shorter version, and Gaster has edited a Hebrew text
which is apparently derived from an Arabic original different from
that of any Latin text. The process of successive compilation, or at
least, re-editing and repeated translation which the work underwent
is suggested by a series of prologues which occur at the beginning.
Following the preface of the Latin translator and the table of contents
comes what is called “the prologue of a certain doctor in commendation
of Aristotle,”[845] in which omnipotent God is prayed to guard the
king and some anonymous editor states that he has executed the mandate
enjoined upon him to procure the moral work on royal conduct called
_The Secret of Secrets_, which Aristotle, chief of philosophers,
composed. After some talk about Aristotle and Alexander a second
prologue begins with the sentence, “John who translated this book, son
of a patrician, most skilful and faithful interpreter of languages,
says.” This John appears to have been Yuhanna ibn el-Batrik, or Ibn
Yahya al-Batrik, who died in 815 A. D.[846] What he says is that he
searched the world over until he came to an oracle of the sun which
Esculapides had constructed. There he found a solitary abstemious
sage who presented him with this book which he translated from Greek
into Chaldaic and thence into Arabic. This passage reminds one of
Harpocration’s prefatory remarks to his daughter in the _Kiranides_;
indeed, it is quite in the usual style of apocryphal writings.

[Sidenote: The Latin translations of John of Spain and Philip.]

In the matter of the Latin translation we are on somewhat more certain
ground. John of Spain in the first half of the twelfth century seems
to have translated only the medical portion.[847] Manuscripts of this
partial translation are relatively few,[848] and it was presently
superseded by the complete translation made either in the twelfth or
early thirteenth century[849] by Philip, “the least of his clerics” for
“his most excellent lord, most strenuous in the cult of the Christian
religion, Guido of Valencia, glorious pontiff of the city of Tripoli.”
Philip goes on to say in his dedicatory preface that it was when he was
with Guido in Antioch that they found “this pearl of philosophy, ...
this book which contains something useful about almost every science,”
and which it pleased Guido to have translated from Arabic into Latin.
Although the various printed editions and manuscripts of _The Secret
of Secrets_ in Latin vary considerably, they regularly are preceded
by this ascription of the Latin translation to Philip, and usually
by the other prologues afore-mentioned. Who this Philip was, other
than a cleric of Tripoli, is still undetermined. If he was the same
as the papal physician whom Alexander III in 1177 proposed to send on
a mission to Prester John,[850] he had probably made his translation
before that date. J. Wood Brown would identify him with Philip of
Salerno, a royal notary whose name appears in 1200 on deeds in the
kingdom of Sicily.[851] I have already suggested that possibly he
translated the _Kiranides_.

[Sidenote: Philip’s preface.]

Returning to Philip’s preface to Guido, it may be noted that he
states that Latins do not have the work, and that it is rare among
the Arabs.[852] His translation is a free one since the Arabic idiom
is different from the Latin. Aristotle wrote this book in response
to the petition of King Alexander his disciple who demanded that
Aristotle should either come to him or faithfully reveal the secrets of
certain arts, namely, the motion, operation, and power of the stars in
astronomy, the art of alchemy, the art of knowing natures and working
enchantments, and the art of geomancy. Aristotle was too old to come in
person, and although it had been his intention to conceal in every way
the secrets of the said sciences, yet he did not venture to contradict
the will and command of so great a lord. He hid some matters, however,
under enigmas and figurative locutions. For Alexander’s convenience he
divided the work into ten books, each of which is divided into chapters
and headings. Philip adds that for his readers’ convenience he has
collected these headings at the beginning of the work, and a table of
contents follows.[853] Then come the two older prologues which we
have already described, next a letter of Aristotle to Alexander on
the extrinsic and intrinsic causes of his work,[854] and then with
a chapter which is usually headed _Distinctio regum_ or _Reges sunt
quatuor_ begins the discussion of kingship which is the backbone of the

[Sidenote: Prominence of occult science.]

It is evident from Philip’s preface that occult science also forms a
leading feature in the work as known to him. Gaster, who contended
that the Hebrew translation from the Arabic which he edited was as old
as either John of Spain’s or Philip’s Latin translations, although
the oldest of the four manuscripts which he collated for his text is
dated only in 1382 A. D., made a rather misleading statement when he
affirmed, “Of the astrology looming so largely in the later European
recensions the Hebrew has only a faint trace.”[855] As a matter of fact
some of the printed editions contain less astrology than the thirteenth
century manuscripts, while Gaster’s Hebrew version has much more than
“a faint trace” of astrology. But more of this later.

[Sidenote: Absence of mysticism.]

On the other hand, I cannot fully subscribe to Steinschneider’s
characterization of _The Secret of Secrets_ as “a wretched compilation
of philosophical mysticism and varied superstition.”[856] Of
superstition there is a great deal, but of philosophical mysticism
there is practically none. Despite the title and the promise in
Philip’s preface of enigmatic and figurative language, the tone of the
text is seldom mystical, and its philosophy is of a very practical sort.

[Sidenote: Discussion of kingship.]

Nor can _The Secret of Secrets_ be dismissed as merely “a wretched
compilation.” Those portions which deal with kingcraft and government
display shrewdness and common sense, worldly wisdom and knowledge of
human nature, are not restricted by being written from any one premise
or view-point, and often evince real enlightenment. Those historians
who have declared the love of fame a new product of the Italian
Renaissance should have read the chapter on fame in this most popular
book of the middle ages, where we find such statements as that royal
power ought not to be desired for its own sake but for the sole purpose
of achieving fame. Other noteworthy utterances indicative of the tone
and thought of the book are that “the intellect ... is the root of all
things praiseworthy”; that kings should cultivate the sciences; that
liberality involves respect for others’ property; that “war destroys
order and devastates the lands and turns everything to chaos”; that no
earthly ruler should shed blood, which is reserved for God alone, but
limit his punishments to imprisonment, flogging, and torture; that the
king, as Chief Justice Coke later told James I, is under the law; that
taxes upon merchants should be light so that they will remain in the
country and contribute to its prosperity; that his people are a king’s
true treasury and that he should acquaint himself with their needs and
watch over their interests.

[Sidenote: Medical discussion.]

From the medical passages of the book one would infer that the art
of healing at first developed more slowly than the art of ruling in
the world’s history. The medical theory of _The Secret of Secrets_ is
not of an advanced or complex sort, but is a combination of curious
notions, such as that vomiting once a month or oftener is beneficial,
and sensible ideas, such as that life consists of natural heat and that
it is very important to keep the abdomen warm and the bowels moving
regularly. Turkish baths are described for perhaps the first time in
Europe, and Alexander is advised to keep his teeth and mouth clean. The
well-known apothegm of Hippocrates is quoted, “I would rather eat to
live than live to eat,” and Alexander is advised to cease eating while
he still has an appetite.

[Sidenote: Astrology.]

Much of the advice offered to Alexander by Aristotle in _The Secret
of Secrets_ is astrological. Among those studies which the king
should promote, the only one specifically mentioned is astrology,
which considers “the course of the year and of the stars, the coming
festivals and solemnities of the month, the course of the planets, the
cause of the shortening and lengthening of days and nights, the signs
of the stars which determine the future and many other things which
pertain to prediction of the future.”[857] Alexander is adjured “not to
rise up or sit down or eat or drink or do anything without consulting
a man skilled in the art of astronomy.”[858] Later the two parts of
astronomy are distinguished, that is, astronomy and astrology in our
sense of the words. Alexander is further warned to put no faith in the
utterances of those stupid persons who declare that the science of the
stars is too difficult to master. No less stupid is the argument of
others who affirm that God has foreseen and foreordained everything
from eternity and that consequently all things happen of necessity
and it is therefore of no advantage to predict events which cannot be
avoided. For even if things happened of necessity, it would be easier
to bear them by foreknowing and preparing for them beforehand, just
as men make preparations against the coming of a cold winter--the
familiar contention of Ptolemy. But _The Secret of Secrets_ also
believes that one should pray God in His mercy to avert future evils
and ordain otherwise, “For He has not so ordained things that to ordain
otherwise derogates in any respect from His Providence.” But this is
not so approved astrological doctrine. Later in the work Alexander
is once more urged never to take medicine or open a vein except with
the approval of his astronomers,[859] and directions are given as to
the constellations under which bleeding should be performed and also
concerning the taking of laxatives with reference to the position of
the moon in the signs of the zodiac.[860] Later the work discusses
the relations of the four elements and of various herbs to the seven
planets,[861] and in the next to last chapter Alexander is advised to
conduct his wars under the guidance of astrology.[862]

[Sidenote: Story of the two boys.]

There is much indulging in astrological theory in the midst of the
chapter on Justice, and the constitution of the universe is set forth
from the first and highest simple spiritual substance down through the
nine heavens and spheres to the lowest inferiors. To illustrate the
power of the stars the story is presently told of two boys,[863] one a
weaver’s son, the other a royal prince of India. Sages who were chance
guests in the weaver’s house at the time of the child’s birth noted
that his horoscope was that of a courtier high in royal councils but
kept their discovery to themselves. The boy’s parents vainly tried to
make a weaver of him, but even beatings were in vain; he was finally
allowed to follow his natural inclination, secured an education, and
became in time a royal governor. The king’s son, on the contrary,
despite his royal birth and the fact that his father sent him through
all his provinces to learn the sciences, would take no interest in
anything except mechanics conformably to his horoscope.

[Sidenote: Virtues of stones and herbs, incantations and amulets.]

In _The Secret of Secrets_ the Pseudo-Aristotle refers Alexander
for the virtues of gems and herbs to his treatises on stones and
plants, presumably those which we have already described. He does not
entirely refrain from discussion of such marvelous properties in the
present work, however, mentioning the use of the virtues of stones in
connection with incantations. We also again hear of stones which will
prevent any army from withstanding Alexander or which will cause horses
to whinny or keep them from doing so; and of herbs which bring true or
false dreams or cause joy, love, hate, honor, reverence, courage, and
inertia.[864] One recipe reads, “If you take in the name of someone
seven grains of the seeds of the herb called androsimon, and hold
them in his name when Lucifer and Venus are rising so that their rays
touch him (or them?), and if you give him those seven grains to eat
or pulverized in drink, fear of you will ever abide in his heart and
he will obey you for the rest of his life.”[865] The discussion of
incantations, astrological images, and amulets is omitted from many
Latin manuscripts but occurs in Roger Bacon’s version.[866]

[Sidenote: Thirteenth century scepticism.]

The extreme powers attributed to herbs and stones in _The Secret
of Secrets_ aroused some scepticism among its Latin readers of the
thirteenth century.[867] Geoffrey of Waterford, a Dominican from
Ireland who died about 1300, translated _The Secret of Secrets_ into
French. He criticized, however, its assertions concerning the virtues
of stones and herbs as more akin to fables than to philosophy, a fact
of which, he adds, all clerks who know Latin well are aware. He wonders
why Alexander had to win his battles by hard fighting when Aristotle is
supposed to inform him in this book of a stone which will always rout
the enemy. Geoffrey decides that such false statements are the work of
the translators and that Aristotle is the author only of what is well
said or reasonable in the work.

[Sidenote: Number and alchemy.]

Something is said in _The Secret of Secrets_ of the occult properties
and relative perfection of numbers, and as usual the preference is
for the numbers, three, four, seven, and ten.[868] The Hebrew version
adds a puerile method of divining who will be victor in a battle by
a numerical calculation based upon the letters in the names of the
generals. The Latin versions of the thirteenth century contain a
chapter on alchemy which had great influence and gives a recipe for the
philosopher’s stone and the Emerald Table of Hermes.[869] But in the
Hebrew version and Achillini’s printed text occurs a passage in which
Alexander is warned that alchemy is not a true science.[870]

[Sidenote: The poisonous maiden.]

We may conclude our picture of the work’s contents with two of its
stories, namely, concerning the poisonous maiden and the Jew and the
Magus. A beautiful maiden was sent from India to Alexander with other
rich gifts. But she had been fed upon poison from infancy “until she
was of the nature of a snake. And had I not perceived it,” continues
Aristotle in the Hebrew version, “for I suspected the clever men of
those countries and their craft, and had I not found by tests that she
would kill thee by her embrace and by her perspiration, she surely
would have killed thee.”[871] This venomous maiden is also alluded to
in various medieval discussions of poisons. Peter of Abano mentions
her in his _De venenis_.[872] Gilbert of England, following no doubt
Gerard of Cremona’s translation of Avicenna, cites Ruffus rather than
the Pseudo-Aristotle concerning her and says nothing of her relations
with Alexander, but adds that animals who approached her spittle were
killed by it.[873] In _Le Secret aux philosophes_, a French work of the
closing thirteenth century, where the story is told at considerable
length, Socrates rather than Aristotle saves Alexander from the
poisonous maid.[874]

[Sidenote: The Jew and the Magus.]

In the other story a Magus is represented in a much more favorable
light than magicians generally were; he seems to represent rather one
of the Persian sages. He was traveling on a mule with provisions and
met a Jew traveling on foot. Their talk soon turned to their respective
religions and moral standards. The Magus professed altruism; the Jew
was inclined to get the better of all men except Jews. When these
principles had been stated, the Jew requested the Magus, since he
professed to observe the law of love, to dismount and let him ride
the mule. No sooner had this been done than the Jew, true to his law
of selfishness and hate, made off with both mule and provisions. This
misfortune did not lead the Magus to lose his faith in God, however,
and as he plodded along he by and by came again upon the Jew who had
fallen off the mule and broken his neck. The Magus then mercifully
brought the Jew to the nearest town where he died, while the king of
the country made the Magus one of his trusted ministers of state.[875]


[755] See Roger Bacon’s allusion to this passage in F. A. Gasquet, “An
Unpublished Fragment of a Work by Roger Bacon,” in EHR, XII (1897), p.

[756] Ch. Gidel, _La Légende d’Aristote au moyen âge_, in _Assoc.
des Études Grecques_, (1874), pp. 285-332, except for the
Pseudo-Callisthenes uses only the French vernacular literature or
popular legends concerning Aristotle. Similar in scope is W. Hertz,
_Aristoteles in den Alexanderdichtungen des Mittelalters_, in _Abhandl.
d. philos-philol. Classe d. k. bayr. Akad. d. Wiss._, XIX (1892) 1-103;
revised in W. Hertz, _Gesammelte Abhandlungen_, 1905, 1-155.

[757] _De naturis rerum_, II, 189.

[758] _Compendium Studii Philosophiae_, ed. Brewer, (1859), p. 473.

[759] It was translated into Arabic about 840 A. D.; an interpolated
Latin paraphrase of it was published at Rome in 1519, by Pietro Niccolo
de’ Castellani,--_Sapientissimi Aristotelis Stagiritae Theologia sive
mistica philosophia, secundum Aegyptios noviter reperta et in latinam
castigatissime redacta_; a French version appeared at Paris in 1572
(Carra de Vaux, _Avicenne_, p. 74). F. Dieterici translated it from
Arabic into German in 1883, after publishing the Arabic text for the
first time in 1882. For divergences between this Arabic text and the
Latin one of 1519, and citation of Baumgartner that the _Theology_ was
known in Latin translation as early as 1200, see Grabmann (1916), pp.

[760] Indeed Carra de Vaux, _Avicenne_, p. 73, says, “Tout un livre qui
ne contient en réalité que des extraits des Ennéades IV à VI de Plotin.”

[761] See Arundel MS 165, 14th century. On the general subject of
the Pseudo-Aristotelian literature the reader may consult V. Rose,
_Aristoteles Pseudepigraphus_, and _De ordine et auctoritate librorum
Aristotelis_; Munk’s article “Aristote” in _La France littéraire_;
Schwab, _Bibliographie d’Aristote_, Paris, 1896; and R. Shute,
_History of the Aristotelian Writings_, Oxford, 1888. It is, however,
a difficult subject and for the middle ages at least has not been
satisfactorily investigated. Grabmann (1916) devotes only a page or two
of supplement to it; see pp. 248-51. A work on Aristotle in the middle
ages, announced in 1904 by G. H. Luquet, seems not to have appeared.

[762] Sloane 2030, fols. 110-13.

[763] Hammer-Jensen, _Das sogenannte IV Buch der Meteorologie des
Aristoteles_, in _Hermes_, vol. 50 (1915) pp. 113-36, argues that its
teachings differ from those of Aristotle and assigns it to Strato, his
younger contemporary. Not content with this thesis, which is easier to
suggest than to prove, Hammer-Jensen contends that it was a work of
Strato’s youth and that it profoundly influenced Aristotle himself in
his last works. “The convenient Strato!” as he is called by Loveday and
Forster in the preface to their translation of _De coloribus_ (1913)
vol. VI of _The Works of Aristotle_ translated into English under the
editorship of W. D. Ross.

[764] So Hammer-Jensen, p. 113, and earlier Heller (1882), I, 61.

[765] Nürnberg Stadtbibliothek (centur. V, 59, membr. 13th
century)--cited by Rose, _Hermes_ 1, 385,--“Completus est liber
metheororum cuius tres primos libros transtulit magister Gerardus
Lumbardus summus philosophus de arabico in latinum. Quartum autem
transtulit Henricus Aristippus de greco in latinum. Tria ultima
capitula transtulit Aluredus Anglicus sarelensis de arabico in latinum.”

Steinschneider (1893) pp. 59 and 84; (1905) p. 7; and others, including
Hammer-Jensen, give the name of the translator of the fourth book from
the Greek as Hermann and of the last three chapters as Aurelius, whom
Steinschneider is more correct in describing as “otherwise unknown.”
On the other hand, we know that Aristippus and Alfred translated other
Aristotelian treatises. Evidently Steinschneider and the others have
followed MSS where the copyist has corrupted the proper names.

[766] Steinschneider and Hammer-Jensen quote from MSS, “tria vero
ultima Avicennae capitula transtulit Aurelius de arabico in latinum.”
Albertus Magnus, _Mineral_, III, i, 9, also ascribed the passage to
Avicenna; others have suggested that it is by disciples of Avicenna.
See J. Wood Brown (1897) pp. 72-3, for a similar passage from
Avicenna’s _Sermo de generatione lapidum_.

[767] They were printed at Bologna, 1501, as _Liber de mineralibus
Aristotelis_ and also published, sometimes as Geber’s, sometimes as
Avicenna’s, under the title, _Liber de congelatione_.

BN 16142 contains a Latin translation of the four books of the
_Meteorology_ with an addition dealing with minerals and geology
which is briefer than the printed _Liber de mineralibus Aristotelis_,
omitting the passage against the alchemists: published by F. de
Mély, _Rev. des Études grecques_, (1894), p. 185 _et seq._ (cited
Hammer-Jensen, 131).

[768] _Speculum naturale_, VIII, 85.

[769] See note 1 above.

[770] Greek text by Prantl, Teubner, 1881; English translation by
Loveday and Forster, 1913. See also Prantl, _Aristoteles über die
Farben_, 1849.

[771] Just a few examples are: Mazarine 3458 and 3459, 13th century;
3460 and 3461, 14th century; Arsenal 748A, 15th century, fol. 185; BN
6325, 14th century, #1; BN 14719, 14-15th century, fol. 38-; BN 14717,
end 13th century; BN 16633, 13th century, fol. 102-; S. Marco X, 57,
13th century, beautifully illuminated, fols. 312-17; Assisi 283, 14th
century, fol. 289-; Volterra 19, 14th century, fol. 196-.

[772] Berthelot (1885) p. 143, “Platon et Aristote sont mis en tête de
la liste des alchimistes œcuméniques sans qu’aucun ouvrage leur soit

[773] Berthelot (1888) I, 76; citing Manget, _Bibl. Chemica_, I, 622.

[774] Digby 162, 13th century, fols. 10v-11v, “Incipit liber
Aristotelis de aquis secreti fluminis translatus ab arabico in
latinum.” In the margin the twelve waters are briefly designated: 1
_rubicunda_, 2 _penetrativa_, 3 _mollificativa, et ingrediente_, 4 _de
aqua eiusdem ponderis et magnitudinis_, 5 _ignita_, 6 _sulphurea_, 7
_aqua cineris_, 8 _aurea_, etc. In one or two cases, however, these
heads do not quite apply to the corresponding chapters.

[775] Ashmole 1448, 15th century, pp. 200-202, de “altitudinibus,
profundis, lateribusque” metallorum secundum Aristotelem (name in the
margin). It opens, “Plumbum est in altitudine sua ar. nigrum.” It takes
up in turn the _altitudo_ of each metal and then discusses the next
quality in the same way.

_Ibid._, pp. 239-44, opens, “Arestotilus, Cum studii, etc. Scias
preterea quod propter longitudines”; at p. 241 it treats “de
purificatione solis et lune” (_i.e._, gold and silver); at p. 243,
“de separatione solis et lune.” It ends with a paragraph about the
composition of a golden seal.

[776] CLM 12026, 15th century, fol. 46-, “Alchymia est ars docens
... / ... Explicit dicto libri (_sic_) Aristotelis de theorica in
rebus naturalibus”; fol. 78, Liber Aristotelis de practica summae
philosophiae, “Primo de separatione salis communis....”

CLM 25110, 15th century, fols. 211-45, Liber Aristotelis de 70

CLM 25113, 16th century, fols. 10-28, A. de alchimia liber qui dicitur
de 70 preceptis.

[777] Egerton 1984, fol. 141v; in the _De natura rerum_.

[778] See Chapter 51 on Michael Scot, near the close.

[779] Caps. 22 and 57. It was printed with further “Additions” of its
own in 1561 in _Verae alchemiae artisque metallicae citra aenigmata_,
Basel, 1561, II, 188-225.

[780] Thus in _Auriferae artis quam chemiam vocant antiquissimi
authores_, Basel, 1572, pp. 387-99, a treatise which cites Morienus,
Rasis, and Avicenna is printed as _Tractatulus Aristotelis de Practica
lapidis philosophici_. Apparently the only reason for ascribing it to
Aristotle is that it cites “the philosopher” in its opening sentence,
“Cum omne corpus secundum philosophum aut est elementum aut ab
elementis generatum.”

[781] Laud. Misc. 708, 15th century, fol. 54.

[782] Berthelot (1893), I, 105 and 107.

[783] Ashmole 1448, 15th century, p. 123.

[784] Ashmole 1450, 15th century, fol. 8, “Epistola ad Alexandrum. O
Alexander rector hominum ... / ... et audientes non intelligant.”

Harleian 3703, 14th century, fols. 41r-42r, Aristoteles ad alexandrum.
“In primo o elaxandor tradere tibi volo secretorum maximum secretum
...,” is a similar treatise.

[785] Ashmole 1384, mid 14th century, fols. 91v-93r, “Incipit Epistola
Alexandri. Dicunt philosophi quod ars dirivata sit ex creatione hominis
cui omnia insunt ... / ... ex omni specie et colore nomine. Explicit
epistola Alexandri.” In the text itself, which is written in the manner
of a master to a disciple, there is nothing to show that the work is by
Alexander rather than Aristotle.

The following is apparently the same treatise but the closing words are

Riccard. 1165, 15th century, fols. 161-3, Liber Alexandri in scientia
secretorum nature. “Dicitur quod hec ars derivata sit ex creacione
hominis cui omnia insunt ... / ... et deo annuente ad optatum finem

The next would seem to be another treatise than the foregoing.

Arezzo 232, 15th century, fols. 1-14, “Liber transmissus ab Alexandro
rege ex libro Hermogenis.”

Hermogenes, who is cited on the subject of the philosopher’s stone
in at least one MS of the _Secret of Secrets_ (Bodleian 67, fol.
33v, “Et pater noster Hermogenes qui triplex est in philosophia
optime philosophando dixit”), is apparently none other than Hermes
Trismegistus. He is also mentioned in a brief work of Aristotle to
Alexander; Harleian 3703, 14th century, fols. 41r-42r, “... hermogenes
quod (_sic_) egypti multum commendunt et laudant et sibi attribuant
omnem scientiam secretam et celerem (?).” The use of the reflexive
pronoun in this sentence to refer to Hermogenes I would have the reader
note, as it appears to illustrate a fairly common medieval usage which
has or will lead me to alter the translations which have been proposed
for certain other passages.

[786] II, 9.

[787] _Excursions historiques_, etc., p. 562.

[788] I have read it in an incunabulum edition numbered IA.49867 in the
British Museum.

[789] _Ibid._, fols. 21v-22r, “Nos Manfredus divi augusti imperatoris
frederici filius dei gratia princeps tharentinus honoris montis sancti
angeli dominus et illustris regis conradi servi in regno sicilie
baiulus ... quem librum cum non inveniretur inter cristianos, quoniam
eum in ebrayco legimus translatum de arabico in hebreum, sanitate
rehabita ad eruditionem multorum et de hebrea lingua transtulimus
in latinam in quo a compilatore quedam recitabilia inseruntur. Nam
dictum librum aristotiles non notavit sed notatus ab aliis extitit qui
causam hylaritatis sue mortis discere voluerunt sicut in libri serie

[790] Edition No. IA.49867 in the British Museum, fols. 25v-26r.

[791] Cap. 4.

[792] Verbum 4.

[793] _De causis et proprietatibus elementorum_, IX, 585-653 in
Borgnet’s edition of Albert’s works; Albert himself in his treatise on
Minerals cites the title as “_Liber de causis proprietatum elementorum
et planetarum._”

[794] Cotton Appendix VI, fol. 8r, “liber iste est aristotelis in
scientia ipsius astronomie.”

[795] Fol. 11v, “Alius liber de nativitatibus”; opens, “Superius prout
potuimus promissorum partem explevimus.”

[796] Fol. 13r, “De electionibus alius liber”; opens, “Unde
constellationibus egyptios imitantes nativitates satis dilucide
dixerimus.” This book intermingles the subjects of interrogations and
elections, and ends at fol. 20v, “Finit liber de interrogationibus.”

[797] BN 16208, fol. 76r-, “liber arystotelis milesii medici
perypathetici in principiis iudiciorum astronomorum in

[798] Cotton Appendix VI, fol. 20v, “Incipit commentum super praemissa
scilicet praedictum librum”; fol. 23v, “Expositio ad litteram
superioris tractatus. Ptolomaeus summus philosophus et excellentissimus
egyptiorum rex....”

[799] Grenoble 814, fols. 1-24. “Cy commence le livre de jugemens
d’astrologie selon Aristote. Le prologue du derrenier translateur.
Aristote fist un livre de jugemens....”

[800] CLM 25010, 15-16th century, fols. 1-12, “liber de iudiciis qui ab
Alberto in Speculo suo dicitur esse Aristotelis.”

[801] Amplon. Quarto 377, 14th century, fols. 25-36, de iudiciis
astrorum. Schum identifies it with the work ascribed to Aristotle by
Albert in the _Speculum astronomiae_.

[802] Bridges (1897), I, 389-90; Brewer (1859) p. 473.

[803] Digby 159, 14th century, fols. 1-87, mutilated at the end.
“Liber Aristotilis de ducentis lvque Indorum voluminibus, universalium
questionum tam genecialium quam circularium summam continens.” At fol.
5v, “Explicit prologus. Incipit Aristotelis commentum in astrologiam.”
This is the MS which I have chiefly followed.

Savile Latin 15 (Bernard 6561), 15th century, fols. 185-204v, is

[804] In the text the number is given as ccl; see Digby 159, fol. 2r.

[805] Digby 159, fol. 2r.

[806] Savile 15, fol. 205r.

[807] Bodleian 67 (Bernard 2136), 14th century, fol. 54r, _De ydeis et
formis_; fol. 54v, _De impressione formarum_; fol. 56v, _De ymaginibus
et annulis_. These chapters are sometimes included in the _Secret of
Secrets_, as in Roger Bacon’s version; Steele (1920) 157-63. But “in
the greater part of the Latin MSS this section is entirely omitted”;
_Ibid._, lxii. Steele does not mention Bodleian 67.

[808] Brewer (1859) p. 532, _De secretis_, cap. 3.

[809] BN 2598, fol. 101r, “liber quem Aristoteles attribuit Alexandro
et quem nonnulli mortis intitulent anime.”

[810] See above, I, 713-714.

[811] Ashmole 369, late 13th century, fols. 77-84v, “Mathematica
Alexandri summi astrologi. In exordio omnis creature herus huranicus
inter cuncta sidera xii maluit signa fore / nam quod lineam designat
eandem stellam occupat. Explicit.” Cap. x, de inveniendo de prospero
aut adverso itinere; xi, de copia et paupertate; xiv, de nece aut
casu amici; xvi, de latrocinio inveniendo; xxiv, de pecunia in terra
defossa; xxxviii, de noscendis maleficiis.

[812] In the preface to the Kiranides; in Montpellier 277, 15th
century; and in Ashmole 1448, 15th century, pp. 44-45, “Virtutes 7
herbarum a septem planetis secundum Alexandrum Imperatorem.” It is
also embodied in some editions and MSS of the _Liber aggregationis_ or
_Experimenta_ attributed to Albertus Magnus (see Chapter 63), where it
is entitled, “Virtutes herbarum septem secundum Alexandrum Imperatorem.”

[813] Ashmole 1741, late 14th century, fol. 143, “Incipiunt virtutes
septem herbarum Aristotilis. Et has quidem virtutes habent ipse septem
herbe ab influentia 7 planetarum. Nam contingit unamquamque recipere
virtutem suam a superioribus naturaliter. Nam dicit Aristotiles quod
corpora inferiora reguntur per superiora.”

[814] Sloane 3854, 15th century, fols. 105 V-110.

[815] L. Blochet, _Études sur le Gnosticisme musulman_, in _Rivista
degli studi orientali_, IV, 76.

[816] _De universo_, II, ii, 39 and 98; II, iii, 6. I presume that
there is some connection between our present treatise and those on the
seven planets, Venus, and the moon mentioned in our chapter on the
Hermetic books.

[817] One MS is Harleian 3487, 14th century, #11.

[818] V. Rose, _Aristoteles de lapidibus und Arnoldus Saxo_, in
_Zeitschrift für deutsches Alterthum_, XVIII (1875) 321 _et seq._ More
recently the _Lapidary_ of Aristotle has been edited by J. Ruska,
_Das Steinbuch des Aristoteles ... nach der arabischen Handschrift_,
Heidelberg, 1912, who gives both the Latin of the Liège MS and the text
of the translation into Arabic by Luca ben Serapion from BN 2772, with
a German translation of it.

[819] Ruska (1912), p. 43.

[820] _Ibid._, p. 183, “Et ego transfero ipsum ex greco sermone in
ydyoma su(r)orum vel Syrorum.”

[821] Liège 77, 14th century; printed by Rose (1875) pp. 349-82.

Montpellier 277, 15th century, fol. 127-; printed by Rose (1875) pp.

The following treatises, also ascribed to Aristotle, I have not
examined: Sloane 2459, 15th century, fols. 9v-16, _de proprietatibus
herbarum et lapidum_; Vienna 2301, 15th century, fols. 81-2, “Isti sunt
lapides quorum virtutes misit Aristotiles in scriptis maximo imperatori
Alexandro.” Perhaps the last may have reference to philosopher’s
stones, like the similar treatise of Aristotle to Alexander noted above
in our discussion of the pseudo-Aristotelian alchemical treatises.

[822] See above chapter 21, I, 496.

[823] _De causis elementorum, etc.,_ II, ii. 1 (Borgnet, IX 643).

[824] HL XXV, 65.

[825] _De venenis_, cap. 5, probably written in 1316, but see chapter
70, appendix vi.

[826] Aristotle, _Lapidarius et Liber de physionomia_, Merseburg, 1473,
p. 8.

[827] _De naturis rerum_, II, 21. In an illustrated 13th century MS of
the vernacular Romance of Alexander three pictures are devoted to his
submarine. CU Trinity 1446, 1250 A. D., fol. 27r, “_Coment Alisandre
vesqui suz les ewes_; a covered ship with windows under green water,
Alexander and three men in it; fol. 27v, _Des nefs ke sont apelees
colifas_; a similar ship in the water, no one visible in it; _Coment
Alisandre encercha la nature de pessons_; Alexander and two men in the
ship, fish and mermaid below.” I have quoted James’ description of the
MS (III, 488).

See also Lacroix, _Science and Literature in the Middle Ages_, 1878,
Fig. 87, p. 119, for Alexander descending to the bottom of the sea in a
glass cask, from a thirteenth century MS, Brussels 11040.

[828] See chapter 61, pp. 654-5.

[829] Budge, _Egyptian Magic_, 1899, pp. 152-6; Masʿudi, _Les Prairies
d’Or._ ed. B. de Maynard and Pavet de Courteille, 1861, II, 425ff.

[830] Budge (1899), pp. 95-6.

[831] CLM 2574b, bombyc. 13th century, fol. 69v. Although Steele
(1920) p. lviii, says, “No Latin manuscript is known in which there
is a figure of the horn, with the exception of that in Holkam Hall,
in the borders of which an entirely fanciful instrument is depicted
(reproduced in plate 151 of the Roxburghe Club publication of 1914).
There are drawings in MSS C and D of the Eastern Arabic text, of
entirely different shape.”

[832] Steele (1920), p. 151.

[833] Cap. 5.

[834] Very similar is the story in the Gilgamesh epic, a work “far
more ancient than Genesis,” of a serpent stealing a life-giving plant
from Gilgamesh while he was bathing in a well or brook. The plant,
which had been revealed to Gilgamesh by the deified Utnapishtim, “had
the miraculous power of renewing youth and bore the name, ‘the old
man becomes young.’” Sir James Frazer (1918), I, 50-51, follows Rabbi
Julian Morgenstern (“On Gilgamesh Epic, XI, 274-320,” in _Zeitschrift
f. Assyriologie_, XXIX, 1915, p. 284ff.) in connecting this incident
with the serpent and the tree of life in the Biblical account of the
fall of man, and gives further examples from primitive folk-lore
of other jealous animals, such as the dog, frog, duck, and lizard,
perverting divine gifts or good tidings to man to their own profit.

[835] Sloane 2030, fols. 125-26; Additional 15236, fols. 154-60; BN,
7420A (14th century) #16.

[836] Richard Förster, _De Aristotelis quae feruntur physiognomonicis
recensendis, Kiliae_, 1882; _De translat. latin. physiognom., Kiliae_,
1884; _Scriptores Physiognomici, Lipsiae_, 1893-1894.

[837] Cotton Julius D-viii, fol. 126ff.; Harleian 3969; Egerton 847;
Sloane 2030, fol. 95-103; Additional 15236, fol. 160 (in abbreviated
form); Sloane 3281, fols. 19-23; Sloane 3584; Egerton 2852, fol. 115v,
_et seq._

[838] There is a manuscript copy of a commentary on it of the
fourteenth century at Erfurt, Amplon. Quarto 186. See Schum’s catalogue
for MSS of the _Physiognomia_ itself in the Amplonian collection.

[839] R. Förster, _De Aristotelis quae feruntur secreta secretorum
Commentatio_, Kiliae, 1888; _Handschriften und Ausgaben des
pseudo-aristotelischen Secretum secretorum_, in _Centralblatt f.
Bibliothekwesen_, VI (1889), 1-22, 57-76. And see Steele (1920).

[840] M. Gaster, in his “Introduction to a Hebrew version of the Secret
of Secrets,” in the _Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_ (1908,
part 2), pp. 1065-84; for the Hebrew text and an English translation,
_Ibid._ (1907), pp. 879-913 and (1908, part 1), pp. 111-62.

[841] Ed. Robert Steele, EETS, LXVI, London, 1894. Volume LXXIV
contains three earlier English versions. There are numerous MSS of it
in Italian in the Riccardian and Palatini collections at Florence.

[842] _De Somno et vigilia_, I, ii, 7.

[843] Tanner 116, 13th century; Corpus Christi 149, 15th century.
Recently edited by Robert Steele, 1920, as Fasc. V of his _Opera
hactenus inedita Rogeri Baconi_.

[844] There are considerable discrepancies between the different early
printed editions, which differ in length, order of arrangement, tables
of contents, and number of chapters. And in the same edition the
chapter headings given in the course of the text may not agree with
those in the table of contents, which as a rule, even in the MSS, does
not fully cover the subject-matter of the text. The different printers
have probably used different manuscripts for their editions rather than
made any new additions of their own. The following editions are those
to which references will be made in the following pages.

An edition printed at Cologne about 1480, which I examined at the
Harvard University Library, divides the text into only thirty chapters
and seems imperfect.

An edition of about 1485, which I examined at the British Museum, where
it was numbered IA.10756, has 74 chapters, and the headings of its 25th
and 30th chapters, for instance, agree with those of the 11th and 13th
chapters in the Harvard copy.

A third edition of Paris, 1520, has no numbered chapters and contains
passages not found in the two earlier editions.

As a check upon these printed texts I have examined the three following
MSS, two of the 13th, and one of the 14th, century. Of these Egerton
2676 corresponds fairly closely throughout to the edition numbered
IA.10756 in the British Museum.

Egerton 2676, 13th century, fols. 3-52.

BN 6584, 13th century, fols. 1r-32v.

Bodleian 67, 14th century, fols. 1-53v, is much like the preceding MS.

[845] BN 6584, fol. 1v, “De prologo cuiusdam doctoris in commendatione
aristotelis.” See also Digby 228, 14th century, fol. 27, where a
scribe has written in the upper margin, “In isto libello primo ponitur
prologus, deinde tabula contentorum in libro, deinde prologus cuiusdam
doctoris in commendacionem Aristotilis, deinde prologus Iohannis qui
transtulit librum istum....” In Egerton 2676, fol. 6r, “Deus omnipotens
custodiat regem....”

[846] Steele (1920), p. xi.

[847] Steinschneider (1905), p. 42, it is true, says, “Ob Joh. selbst
das ganze Secretum übersetzt habe, ist noch nicht ermittelt”; but the
following passage, cited by Giacosa (1901), p. 386, from Bibl. Angelica
Rome, Cod. 1481, 12th century, fols. 144-146v, indicates that he
translated only the medical part.

“Cum de utilitate corporis olim tractarim et a me quasi essem medicus
vestra nobilitas quereret ut brevem libellum et de observatione diete
et de continentia cordis in qualibus se debent contineri qui sanitatem
corporis cupiunt servare accidit ut dum cogitarem vestre iussioni
obedire huius rei exempliar aristotelis philosophi Alexandro dictum
repente in mente occurreret quod excerpi de libro qui arabice vocatur
ciralacerar id est secretum secretorum que fecit fieri predictus
Aristotelis philosophus Alexandro regi magno de dispositione regni in
quo continentur multa regibus utilia....”

Steele (1920) pp. xvii-xviii, gives the same passage, worded and
spelled a little differently, from another MS, Addit. 26770.

[848] Ed. H. Souchier, _Denkmäler provenzal. Lit. u. Sprache_, Halle,
1883, I, 473 _et seq._

[849] Thirteenth century MSS of Philip’s translation are numerous: I
have not noted a 12th century one.

[850] See above, chapter 47, p. 244.

[851] Brown (1897), pp. 19-20, 36-7. But not much reliance can be
placed on the inclusion of this name, “Master Philip of Tripoli,” in a
title which Brown (p. 20) quotes from a De Rossi MS, “The Book of the
Inspections of Urine according to the opinion of the Masters, Peter
of Berenico, Constantine Damascenus, and Julius of Salerno; which was
composed by command of the Emperor Frederick, Anno Domini 1212, in
the month of February, and was revised by Master Philip of Tripoli
and Master Gerard of Cremona at the orders of the King of Spain,”
etc., since Gerard of Cremona at least had died in 1187 and there was
no “king of Spain” until 1479. Brown does not give the Latin for the
passage, but if the date 1212 could be regarded as Spanish era and
turned into 1174 A. D., Gerard of Cremona would still be living, the
emperor would be Frederick Barbarossa instead of Frederick II, and
Master Philip of Tripoli might be the same Philip whom Pope Alexander
III proposed to send to Prester John in 1177.

Steele (1920) p. xix, inclines to identify Philip of Tripoli with a
canon of Byblos from 1243 to 1248, but that seems to me too late a date
for his translation of _The Secret of Secrets_.

[852] BN 6584, fol. 1r, “Hunc librum quo carebant latini eo quod
apud paucissimos arabies reperitur transtuli cum magno labore....” A
considerable portion of Philip’s preface is omitted in the Harvard

[853] The preliminary table of contents, however, gives only chapter
headings, which in BN 6584 are 82 in number, but the beginnings of the
ten books are indicated in the text in BN 6584 as follows. The numbers
in parentheses are the corresponding leaves in Bodleian 67 which,
however, omits mention of the book and its number except in the case of
the fourth book.

Fol. 3v (5r), Incipit liber primus. Epistola ad Alexandrum.

Fol. 6r, Secundus liber de dispositione Regali et reverentia Regis.

Fol. 12r (18v), Incipit liber tertius. Cum hoc corpus corruptibile sit
eique accidit corruptio....

Fol. 22r (36r), Incipit liber quartus. transtulit magister philippus
tripolitanus de forma iusticie.

Fol. 28r (44v), Liber Quintus de scribis et scriptoribus secretorum.

Fol. 28r (45r), Liber Sextus de nuntiis et informationibus ipsorum.

Fol. 28v (46v), Liber Septimus de hiis qui sr’ intendunt et habent
curam subditorum.

Fol. 29r (47r), Liber Octavus de dispositione ductoris sui et de
electione bellatorum et procerum inferiores (?).

Fol. 29v (48r), Liber Nonus de regimine bellatorum et forma aggrediendi
bellum et pronatationibus eorundem.

Fol. 30v (50v), Sermo de phisionomia cuiuslibet hominis.

[854] It is omitted in some printed editions, but occurs in both 13th
century MSS which I examined.

[855] Gaster (1908), p. 1076.

[856] Steinschneider (1905), p. 60.

[857] Cap. 11 (Harvard copy); cap. 25 (BM IA.10756); Egerton 2676, fol.
12r; BN 6584, fol. 9v; Steele (1920) pp. 58-59.

[858] Cap. 13 (Harvard copy); cap. 30 (BM IA.10756); Egerton 2676, fol.
13r; BN 6584, fol. 10r; Steele (1920) p. 60; also in Gaster’s Hebrew

[859] Egerton 2676, fol. 32r; cap. 62 (BM IA.10756); fol. 33r (Paris,
1520); BN 6584, fol. 19v; Steele (1920) pp. 108-10.

[860] The Paris, 1520, edition then goes on to explain the effects
of incantations and images upon astrological grounds, but this
passage seems to be missing from the earlier printed editions and the
thirteenth century manuscripts. Roger Bacon, however, implies that
incantations were present in Philip’s original translation, and one
Arabic MS gives cabalistic signs for the planets; Steele (1920) pp.

[861] This passage is found both in Egerton MS 2676 and in BM IA.10756.
BN 6584, fol. 21r-v. Bodl. 67, fol. 32v-35v. Steele, 119-20.

[862] Cap. 73 (BM IA.10756); fols. 44v-45r (Paris, 1520); BN 6584, fol.
30v; Steele, 155-6.

[863] BN 6584, fol. 21r; also in Gaster’s Hebrew version; cap. 26 in
the Harvard copy; Steele, 137.

[864] Gaster, pp. 116, 160-62; Egerton 2676, fols. 34r-35r; cap. 66 (BM
IA.10756); fol. 37v (Paris, 1520); BN 6584, fol. 20r-22r; Steele, 121-2.

[865] Egerton 2676, fol. 36v; BN 6584, fol. 22r; Steele, 122.

[866] Steele (1920) pp. lxii, 157-63, 252-61; Paris (1520), fol. 37;
Gaster, p. 159.

[867] HL XXI, 216ff.

[868] Caps. 68 and 72 (BM IA.10756); cap. 68 appears in Egerton 2676;
cap. 72 in Gaster’s text and in the Paris (1520) edition. I could not
find the passage in BN 6584; Steele (1920) 134-5.

[869] BN 6584, fol. 20r-v; Egerton 2676, fols. 33v-34r; cap. 65 (BM
IA.10756); fols. 36v-37r (Paris 1520); Steele, 114-15.

[870] Gaster, 159-60; fol. 38r (Paris, 1520); Steele, 174.

[871] Gaster, p. 127; cap. 12 (Harvard copy); also in BM IA.10756,
and BN 6584, fol. 10r, where Aristotle seems to detect the venomous
nature of the maiden by magic art--“Et nisi ego illa hora sagaciter
inspexissem in ipsam et arte magica iudicassem....”; while it
is her mere bite that kills men, as Alexander afterwards proved
experimentally; Steele, 60.

[872] Cap. 3.

[873] Gilbertus Anglicus, _Compendium medicinae_, Lyons, 1510, fol.

[874] HL XXX, 569ff. “Die Sage vom Giftmädchen” is the theme of a long
monograph by W. Hertz, _Gesammelte Abhandlungen_ (1905), pp. 156-277.

[875] BN 6584, fol. 27; IA.10756, cap. 68; also in Paris, 1520 edition,
etc.; Steele, 144-6.



 Solomon as a magician--Magic books ascribed to
 Solomon--Manuscripts of them--Notory art of Solomon
 and Apollonius--Other works ascribed to Solomon and
 Apollonius--_Liber sacratus_; preface--_Incipit_ and
 _Explicit_--A work of theurgy or the notory art--Character
 of its contents--The third “work”--The fourth and fifth
 “works”--How to operate with spirits--The seal of the living
 God--Spirits of Saturn.

[Sidenote: Solomon as a magician.]

It was only natural that Solomon, regarded as the wisest man in the
history of the world, should be represented in oriental tradition
as the worker of many marvels and that in the course of time books
of magic should be attributed to him, just as treatises on the
interpretation of dreams were ascribed to Joseph and Daniel. Roger
Bacon speaks of the magic books in a grand-sounding style which were
falsely ascribed to Solomon and which “ought all to be prohibited by
law.”[876] Solomon’s reputation as a magician, even in the western
Latin-speaking world, was much older than the thirteenth century,
however. In 1918 Roman archaeologists excavated at Ostia a bronze disc,
on one side of which was depicted Solomon as a magician, stirring
with a long ladle some mess in a large cauldron. On the other side of
the disc was a figure of the triple Hecate, who, like Solomon, was
surrounded by mystic signs and magic characters.[877]

[Sidenote: Magic books ascribed to Solomon.]

But to return to the medieval period. In the first half of the
thirteenth century William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris, in his
treatise on laws declares that there is no divinity in the angles of
Solomon’s pentagon, that the rings of Solomon and the seals of Solomon
and the nine candles (_candariae_) are a form of idolatry, and involve
execrable consecrations and detestable invocations and images. “As for
that horrible image called the _Idea Salomonis et entocta_, let it
never be mentioned among Christians.” In the same class are the book
called _Sacratus_ and the figure _Mandel_ or _Amandel_.[878] Some years
later Albertus Magnus, listing evil books of necromantic images in his
_Speculum astronomiae_,[879] includes five treatises current under the
name of Solomon, and seems to have in mind about the same works as
William. One is _De figura Almandel_, another _De novem candariis_, and
a third on the four rings (_De quatuor annulis_) opens with the words
“_De arte eutonica et ideica_,” which remind one of William’s “_Idea
Salomonis et entocta_,” and is perhaps also identical with a _Liber
de umbris idearum_ cited under the name of Solomon by Cecco d’Ascoli
in his necromantic commentary upon the _Sphere_ of Sacrobosco,[880]
written in the early fourteenth century.

[Sidenote: Manuscripts of them.]

Moreover, these same works are apparently still extant in manuscripts
in European libraries. The figure Almandal or Almandel and the rings
of Solomon are found in fifteenth century manuscripts at Florence
and Paris,[881] while in the Sloane collection of the British Museum
we find Solomon’s pentagon, the divine seal, the four rings, and the
nine candles, all in seventeenth century manuscripts.[882] In these
seventeenth century manuscripts also appear, and more than once, the
_Clavicula_ or Key of Solomon, in French, Italian, and English,[883]
the book by Solomon called _Cephar_ or _Saphar Raziel_,[884] and the
_Liber sacer_ or _sacratus_.[885] The last-named work, mentioned
at least twice in the thirteenth century by William of Auvergne,
who calls it “a cursed and execrable book,”[886] is also found in
manuscripts of the fourteenth or fifteenth century,[887] and we shall
presently consider it in particular as a specimen of the Pseudo-Solomon
literature and of medieval books of magic, theurgy, and necromancy.

[Sidenote: Notory art of Solomon and Apollonius.]

Let us first, however, note some other works ascribed to Solomon and
which have to do with the _Ars Notoria_, or Notory Art, which seeks
to gain knowledge from or communion with God by invocation of angels,
mystic figures, and magical prayers. We are told that the Creator
revealed this art through an angel to Solomon one night while he
was praying, and that by it one can in a short time acquire all the
liberal and mechanical arts.[888] There seems to be little difference
between the notory art of Solomon, that of Solomon, Machineus, and
Euclid,[889] and the _Golden Flowers_ of Apollonius,[890] in which
Solomon is mentioned almost every other sentence. Cecco d’Ascoli may
have had it in mind when he cited the _Book of Magic Art_ of Apollonius
and the _Angelic Faction_ of the same author.[891] In one manuscript
at the close of the _Golden Flowers_ of Apollonius are prayers which
one “brother John Monk” confesses he himself has composed in the years
1304-1307.[892] In a later manuscript we find his prayers described as
given to him by the blessed God and as “perfect science,” and they are
followed by “The Pauline art,” discovered by the Apostle Paul after
he had been snatched up to the third heaven, and delivered by him at
Corinth.[893] Other works of notory art are listed in the manuscript
catalogues without name of author.[894] But all alike are apt to
impress the present reader as unmeaning jumbles of diagrams and magic
words.[895] We shall sufficiently illustrate them all when we come
to speak of the _Liber sacratus_ which is itself in large measure
concerned with the Notory Art.

[Sidenote: Other works ascribed to Solomon and Apollonius.]

Certain works may be mentioned which are ascribed to Solomon or to
Apollonius in the medieval manuscripts, and which do not seem to be
concerned with the notory art. Experiments ascribed to Solomon will be
mentioned in another place in connection with experimental literature.
Treatises of alchemy and astrology also were attributed to him.[896]
Under the name of Apollonius we find a work on the properties or occult
virtue of things, and another, or possibly the same, on the principal
causes of things.[897] One wonders if it may have any connection with
the book on six principles of things ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus
and which has been discussed in our chapter on _Hermetic Books in
the Middle Ages_. A treatise on palmistry is ascribed to Solomon in
a fourteenth century manuscript at Cambridge.[898] A “Philosophy of
Solomon” in a manuscript of the late twelfth century in the British
Museum consists of “notes perhaps from more than one source on the
analogy between the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the three
divisions of philosophy (_moralis_, _naturalis_, _inspectiva_), and the
three books of Solomon.”[899]

[Sidenote: _Liber sacratus_: preface.]

The _Liber sacratus_, as William of Auvergne twice entitles it, or
the _Liber sacer_ or _Liber juratus_, as it is also called in the
manuscripts,[900] is associated with the name Honorius as well as
Solomon, and is often spoken of as _The Sworn Book of Honorius_.
The preface, as given in the Latin manuscripts of the fourteenth
century--one of which once belonged to Ben Jonson--states that under
the influence of evil spirits the pope and cardinals had passed
a decree aiming at the complete extirpation of the magic art and
condemning magicians to death. The grounds for this action were that
magicians and necromancers were injuring everyone, transgressing the
statutes of holy mother church, making invocations and sacrifices
to demons, and dragging ignorant people down to damnation by their
marvelous illusions. These charges the magicians hotly deny as inspired
by the envy and cupidity of the devil who wished to keep a monopoly
of such marvels. The magicians declare that it is impossible for a
wicked or impure man to work truly by the magic art, in which they
assert that the spirits are compelled against their will by pure men.
The magicians further profess to have been forewarned by their art
of this legislation against them. They hesitate, however, to summon
the demons to their aid lest those spirits avail themselves of the
opportunity to destroy the populace utterly. Instead an assembly of 89
masters from Naples, Athens, and Toledo has chosen Honorius, son of
Euclid,[901] a master of Thebes, to reduce their magic books to one
volume containing 93 chapters, which they may more readily conceal
and preserve. And inasmuch as it has pleased the prelates and princes
to order the burning of their books and the destruction of schools of
magic, the followers of that art have taken an oath not to give this
volume to anyone until its owner is on his death-bed, never to have
more than three copies of it made at a time, and never to give it to
a woman or to a man who is not of mature years and proved fidelity.
Each new recipient of the sacred volume is also to take this oath.
Hence the name, _Juratus_ or _Sworn-Book_. Its other titles, _Sacer_ or
_Sacratus_, refer either to the sacred names of God which constitute
much of its text or to its consecration by the angels.

[Sidenote: _Incipit_ and _Explicit_.]

After this proemium, which, like the magic art itself, is probably more
impressive than true, the work proper opens with the statement, “In the
name of almighty God and Jesus Christ, one and true God, I, Honorius,
have thus ordered the works of Solomon in my book.” Later Honorius
reiterates that he is following the precepts and in the foot-prints of
Solomon, whom he also often cites or quotes in course. The _Explicit_
of the _Sworn-Book_ is unusually long and sets forth in grandiloquent
style the purpose of the volume.

“So ends the book of the life of the rational soul,[902] which is
entitled _Liber sacer_ or _The Book of the Angels_ or _Liber juratus_,
which Honorius, Master of Thebes, made. This is the book by which
one can see God in this life. This is the book by which anyone can
be saved and led beyond a doubt to life eternal. This is the book by
which one can see hell and purgatory without death. This is the book
by which every creature can be subjected except the nine orders of
angels. This is the book by which all science can be learned. This is
the book by which the weakest substance can overcome and subjugate the
strongest substances. This is the book which no religion possesses
except the Christian, or if it does, does so to no avail. This is the
book which is a greater joy than any other joy given by God exclusive
of the sacraments. This is the book by which corporeal and visible
nature can converse and reason with the incorporeal and invisible and
be instructed. This is the book by which countless treasures can be
had. And by means of it many other things can be done which it would
take too long to enumerate; therefore it is deservedly called _The Holy

[Sidenote: A work of theurgy or the notory art.]

From this description it will be seen that the work has a good deal to
do with the so-called Notory Art. Moreover, in the manuscript copy
said to have belonged to Ben Jonson the word _Theurgia_ is written
on the fly-leaves before the beginning and after the close of the
text. This calls to mind the passage in _The City of God_[903] where
Augustine speaks of “incantations and formulae composed by an art
of depraved curiosity which they either call magic or by the more
detestable name _goetia_ or by the honorable title _theurgia._ For
they try to distinguish between these arts and condemn some men, whom
the populace calls _malefici_, as devoted to illicit arts, for these,
they say, are concerned with _goetia_; but others they want to make out
praiseworthy as being engaged in theurgy. But they are both entangled
in the deceptive rites of demons who masquerade under the names of

[Sidenote: Character of its contents.]

The text is full of the names of spirits, prayers in strange words,
supposedly derived from Hebrew or Chaldaic, and other gibberish.
Series of letters and figures often occur and names inscribed in
stars, hexagons, and circles. An English translation in a fifteenth
century manuscript[904] is adorned with pictures of rows of spirits
dressed like monks in robes and caps but with angelic wings. The text
does not seem to be complete in any of the manuscripts that I have
examined,[905] but Sloane 3854 of the fourteenth century contains an
apparently complete table of contents. The chapter headings, anyway,
are more intelligible than the jargon of the text. The first chapter
deals with the composition of the great name of God which contains 72
letters. The second is about the divine vision and by the time it is
finished we are nearly two-thirds through the space allotted to the
_Liber juratus_ in one manuscript. The third chapter is on knowledge of
the divine power, the fourth on absolution from sin, the fifth deals
with mortal sin, the sixth with the redemption of souls from purgatory.
With this the “first work” of the collection of Honorius ends. The
opening chapters of the second work discuss the heavens, the angels
found in each heaven and at the four points of the compass, their names
and powers, seals and virtues, and invocation. Chapters 14 and 15
tell how to get your wish from any angel or to acquire the sciences.
Chapter 16 tells how to learn the hour of one’s death, and chapter 17
how to know all things, past, present, or future. It was perhaps these
chapters that William of Auvergne had in mind when, in censuring works
on divination by inspection of mirrors, sword-blades, and human nails
to discover stolen articles and other hidden things, he added that
“from this pest of curiosity proceeded that accursed and execrable
work called _Liber sacratus_.”[906] That work next returns for three
chapters to the stars and planets and their virtues and influence.
Chapter 21 then instructs how to turn day into night or night into
day. Next spirits are further considered, those of air and those of
fire, their names and their superior spirits, their powers, virtues,
and seals. Attention is then given to the four elements and bodies
composed thereof, to herbs and plants, and to human nature, after which
aquatic and terrestrial spirits are discussed. The future life is then
considered and the 33rd chapter, which is the last one of the “second
work,” deals with “the consecration of this book.”

[Sidenote: The third “work.”]

The “third work,” which extends from chapter 34 to 87 inclusive,
treats of the control of spirits by words, by seals, by tables, and
by shutting them up. It tells how to provoke thunder and lightning,
storms, snow, ice, rain, or dew; how to produce flowers and fruit; how
to become invisible; how to wage war and to make an indestructible
castle, how to destroy a town by means of mirrors; how to sow discord
or concord, how to open closed doors, to catch thieves, fish, and
animals, and to produce varied apparitions.

[Sidenote: The fourth and fifth “works.”]

The fourth work deals with similar marvels but it is stated that two of
its chapters, namely, 91 on the apparition of dead bodies which speak
and seem to be resuscitated, and 92 on the apparent creation of animals
from earth, will be omitted as contrary to the will of God. The fifth
work or book, which seems to coincide with the 93rd and last chapter
of Honorius, is in reality divided into five chapters, which return to
themes similar to those of the first work.

[Sidenote: How to operate with spirits.]

To illustrate further the character of the work a few particular
passages may be noticed. We are told that there are three ways of
operating by means of spirits: the pagan, Jewish, and Christian. The
pagans sacrificed to spirits of earth and air but did not really
constrain them. The spirits only pretended to be coerced in order to
encourage such idolatrous practices. “Whoever wishes to operate by such
experiments” (mark the word!), “deserts the Lord God.” As for the Jews,
they get along only so-so, and “do in no wise work to obtain the vision
of the deity.” Only a Christian, therefore, can operate successfully
in such visions. “And although three kinds of men work at this art of
magic, one should not think that there is any evil included in this
name of _magus_, for a _magus per se_ is called a philosopher in Greek,
a scribe in Hebrew, and a sage in Latin.”[907]

[Sidenote: The seal of the living God.]

Very elaborate directions are given for the composition of the seal of
the living God. Circles are drawn of certain proportions emblematic of
divine mysteries, a cross is made within, numerous letters are written
down equidistant from one another. A pentagon and two hexagons have to
be placed just so in relation to one another; characters are inscribed
in their angles; and various sacred names of God, Raphael, Michael, and
other angels are written along their sides. Different parts must be
executed in different colors; a particular kind of parchment must be
employed; and the blood of a mole or hoopoe or bat must be used as ink
for some of the writing. Finally, there are sacrifices, purifications,
suffumigations, invocations, and prayers to be performed and offered.
This seal, we are told, “will conquer the celestial powers, subjugate
the aerial and terrestrial together with the infernal; invoke,
transmit, conjure, constrain, excite, gather, disperse, bind, and
restore unharmed; will placate men and gain petitions from them
graciously, pacify enemies,”[908] etc., etc.

[Sidenote: Spirits of Saturn.]

The spirits associated with the planet Saturn are Bohel, Casziel,
Uuchathon, and Dacdel. Their nature is to cause sadness and wrath and
hate, to produce ice and snow. Their bodies are long and large, pale
or golden. Their region is in the north and they have five or nine
demons under them.[909] As a rule spirits of the north and south are
ferocious, those of the east and the west gentle.[910]


[876] Brewer (1859), pp. 526, 531.

[877] _The Nation_, New York, May 10, 1919, p. 744. In January, 1922,
it was announced that a paper by Professor C. C. McCown, “Solomon as
a Magician in Christian Legend,” would appear in the _Journal of the
Palestine Oriental Society_.

[878] _De legibus_, cap. 27.

[879] Cap. 11.

[880] Ed. of 1518, p. 22F2.

[881] Florence II-iii-24, 15th century, 74-77, “Liber in figura
Almandel et eius opere / et eius iuditio”; 77, “Alius liber de Almandal
qui dicitur tabula vel ara Salomonis.”

BN 7349, 15th century, #8, Annuli Salomonis.

[882] Sloane 3851, fols. 31v-53, “Signum Pentaculum Salomonis”; 3853,
fol. 127v, Divine seal of Solomon; 3847, fols. 66v-81, “Opus mirabile
et etiam verissimum de quatuor annulis sapientissimi Salomonis”;
3850, fols. 68-75, Salomonis opus de novem candariis celestibus. In a
16th century MS in French there is a book of conjurations of spirits
ascribed to Solomon. The conjurations themselves are mainly in Latin.
CU Trinity 1404 (VI).

[883] Harleian 3536, in French; Sloane 1307, in Italian, the
translation being ascribed to “Gio. Peccatrix”; Sloane 3825 and 3847
are not identical versions.

[884] Sloane 3826, fols. 1-57; 3846, fols. 127-55; 3847, fols. 161-88;
3853, fols. 41-53. Perhaps the same as the “Sefer ha-Yashar” mentioned
by Haya Gaon in the early eleventh century: Gaster, _The Sword of
Moses_, 1896, p. 16.

[885] Sloane 3883, fols. 1-25, De modo ministrandi librum sacrum
(revealed to Solomon by an angel).

Sloane 3885, fols. 1-25, “Liber sacer Salomonis,” repeated at fols.
96v-125; fols. 58-96, Tractatus de re magica ab Honorio filio Euclidis
magistro Thebarum ex septem voluminibus artis magicae compilatus, et
intitulatus Liber sacer, sive juratus.

[886] _De legibus_, caps. 24 and 27.

[887] Sloane 313, late 14th or 15th century (according to a Letter from
Dr. Montague Rhodes James to me, dated 21 May, 1921), mutilus, quondam
Ben Jonsonii, 26 fols., Salomonis opus sacrum ab Honorio ordinatum,
tractatus de arte magica.

Sloane 3854, 14th century, fols. 112-39, Honorii Magistri Thebarum
liber cui titulus “Juratus.”

[888] BN 7153, 15th century, Solomon, Sacratissima ars notoria.

Harleian 181, fol. 18-, Ars notoria (Salomoni ab angelo tradita)
preceded at fol. 1- by Ars memorativa, and followed at fol. 81 by “de
arte crucifixa.”

CU Trinity 1419, 1600 A. D., Liber de Arte memorativa sive notoria ...
Prologus per Sallomonem ... Inc. sanctissima Ars notoria quam Creator
altissimus per Angelum suum super altare templi quodam modo Salomoni
dum oraret ministrans.

Math. 50 (Amplonius’ catalogue of 1412), “Item liber continens septem
libros parciales qui dicitur angelus magnus vel secreta secretorum et
est de arte notoria Salomonis et non debet rudibus exponi.”

CLM 19413, 10-11th century, fols. 67-108, Salomonis III formulae, might
turn out to be a work on Notory Art.

[889] Sloane 1712, 13th century, fols. 1-22, “Ars notoria Salomonis,
Machinei, et Euclidis,” followed at fols. 22-37 by an anonymous “ars
notoria quae nova ars appellatur.”

BN 7152, 14th century, Expositiones quas Magister Apollonius flores
aureos ad eruditionem et cognitionem omnium scientiarum et naturalium
artium generaliter et merito et competenter appellavit; hoc opus
Salomonis Machinei et Euclidii actoritate maxima compositum et probatum
est: accedunt figurae.

[890] CLM 268, 14th century, 16 fols.; CLM 276, 14th century, fols.
1-26, Apollonii flores aurei, quorum pars extat in cod. 268.

Amplon. Quarto 380, 13th century, fols. 49-64, ars notoria Appolonii
philosophi et magi; while the 1412 catalogue gives Math. 54, “Liber
Appollonii magi vel philosophi qui dicitur Elizinus”; Amplon. Octavo
84, 14th century, fols. 95-106 (Apollonii) de arte notoria Salomonis.

Ashmole 1515, 16th century, fol. 4r, “Incipit primus tractatus istius
sanctissime artis notorie et expositiones eius et temporum exceptiones,
quas Salomon et Apollonius flores aureos appellaverunt, et hoc opere
probatum est et confirmatum authoritate Salomonis, Manichei et

[891] _Sphere_ (1518), fol. 3.

[892] CLM 276, fol. 49.

[893] BN 7170A, 16th century, #1, de arte notoria data a Deo beato
Joanni Monacho sive de scientia perfecta: praemittuntur orationes
decern; #2, Ars Paulina, a Paulo Apostolo inventa post raptum eius et
Corinthiis denotata.

[894] BN 9336, 14th century, “Sacratissima ars notoria.”

Amplon. Quarto 28, anno 1415, fols. 38-41, ars notoria et orationibus
et figuris exercenda; Amplon. Octavo 79, 14th century, fols. 63-64, ars
notoria brevis et bona.

Sloane 3008, 15th century, fol. 66-, de arte notoria, brief and

[895] Essentially similar is “The _Sword of Moses_. An ancient book
of magic from an unique manuscript, with introduction, translation,
an index of mystical names and a facsimile. Published for the first
time,” London, 1896, by M. Gaster from a Hebrew MS of 13-14th century.
Gaster (p. 18) describes the treatise as “a complete encyclopaedia of
mystical names, of eschatological teachings, and of magical recipes.”
The _Sword_ proper is a series of names.

[896] Sloane 3849, 15-16th century, fols. 30-38, A noble experiment of
King Solomon with astrological tables.

Ashmole 1416, 15th century, fol. 113v, Libellus de sulphuris
virtutibus; 114-, Fragmentum de planetarum influentia; 123-, On
perilous days; 123-4, Ars artium, or prayers to invoke spirits, is
perhaps a portion of the _Ars Notoria_.

[897] Vienna 3124, 15th century, “Verba de proprietatibus rerum quomodo
virtus unius frangitur per alium. Adamas nec ferro nec igne domatur /
cito medetur.”

BN 13951, 12th century, Liber Apollonii de principalibus rerum causis.

[898] Trinity 1109, fols. 388-90, Expl. tract. de Palmistria Salamonis.
The tract consists of two full page diagrams and an explanation in

[899] Royal 7-D-II, late 12th century, fols. 3-10, opening, “Hanc ergo
triplicem divine philosophie formam....” I quote the description in the
new catalogue of the Royal MSS.

[900] See above, page 281 of this chapter, notes 3 and 5.

[901] Possibly he is the same Euclid as one of the three co-authors of
the work on the _Notory Art_ mentioned above.

[902] One wonders if this can be the evil book of magic referred to by
Roger Bacon and other writers as _De morte animae_.

[903] _De civitate Dei_, X, 9.

[904] Royal 17-A-XLII.

[905] Sloane 313 seems to reach only as far as the early chapters of
the “second work.”

[906] _De legibus_, cap. 24, p. 68 in ed. of 1591.

[907] Sloane 3854. fol. 114r.

[908] Sloane 3854, fols. 114r-115v.

[909] _Ibid._, fol. 129v; Royal 17-A-XLII, fol. 67v.

[910] Sloane 3854, fol. 132r.



 _Oneirocritica_ of Artemidorus--Astrampsychos and
 Nicephorus--Achmet translated by Leo Tuscus--Byzantine
 and oriental divinations by Daniel--Latin _Dream-Books of
 Daniel_--_Sompniale dilucidarium Pharaonis_--An anonymous
 exposition of dreams--Physiological origin of dreams--Origin
 and justification of the art of interpretation--Sources
 of the present treatise--Demoniac and natural causes of
 dreams--Interpretation--William of Aragon on prognostication
 from dreams--Who was William of Aragon?--His work formerly
 ascribed to Arnald of Villanova--Another anonymous work on

[Sidenote: _Oneirocritica_ of Artemidorus.]

Both Jews and Greeks at the beginning of the Christian era were much
given to the interpretation of dreams. There were “established and
frequented dreaming places” at the shrines of Asclepius at Epidaurus,
Amphiaraus at Oropus, Amphilochus at Mallos, Sarpedon in the Troad,
Trophonius at Lebedea, Mopsus in Cilicia, Hermonia in Macedon, and
Pasiphaë in Laconia. We hear of dream-books by Artemon, Antiphon,
Strato, Philochoros, Epicharmus, Serapion, Cratippus, Dionysius
of Rhodes, and Hermippus of Beirut. But the chief work upon the
interpretation of dreams which has reached us from the time of the
Roman Empire is that of Artemidorus, who was born at Ephesus and lived
in Lydia in the time of the Antonines. He of course wrote in Greek and,
despite the superstitious character of his work, in a pure and refined
Attic style. The Ὀνειροκριτικά has also been translated into Latin,
French, and Italian.[911] It is a compilation in five books gathered
from previous literature on the subject and by the author personally
in travel in Greece, Italy, and elsewhere. The first thirteen chapters
of the fourth book, which Artemidorus opens with a general instruction
to his son, deal with such preliminary and general considerations as
the different types of dreams and more especially those divinely sent,
the significance of times, the personal qualifications requisite in the
interpreter, and certain rules of interpretation such as that native
customs are good signs and foreign ways bad signs in dreams. But the
great bulk of the work consists of specific interpretation arranged
either under topical headings such as “Concerning Nativity,” or listed
as single dreams.

[Sidenote: Astrampsychos and Nicephorus.]

In the edition of 1603[912] the work of Artemidorus is followed by
much briefer metrical treatises on the same subject by Astrampsychos
and Nicephorus.[913] These poems, if they may be so called, devote a
line of interpretation to each of the things seen in dreams, and these
verses are arranged in alphabetical order. This was to be the method
of arrangement adopted in the medieval dream-books ascribed to the
prophet Daniel. Astrampsychos is first named by Diogenes Laertius[914]
in the early third century. He was supposed to have been one of the
Persian Magi, and other occult treatises are ascribed to him, including
astrological writings, a book of oracles addressed to Ptolemy, and love
charms in a papyrus in the British Museum.[915]

[Sidenote: Achmet translated by Leo Tuscus.]

Still another work on the interpretation of dreams contained in the
edition of 1603[916] is ascribed to “Achmet, the son of Sereim” or
Ahmed ben Sirin.[917] The Greek text states that he was interpreter of
dreams to Mamoun, the first minister of the Caliph, which fixes his
date as about 820 A. D.[918] Perhaps he is the same Achmet who wrote an
astrological treatise extant in Greek which he says he compiled from
books from Adam’s time to the present day.[919] Of the work on dreams
there is a Latin version in the medieval manuscripts translated from
the Greek by Leo Tuscus,[920] who died in 1182 and was interpreter
of imperial letters in the time of the Byzantine emperor, Manuel
Comnenus. Leo prefixes to his translation a prologue addressed[921]
to his brother Hugo Eterianus or Eteriarius (Ecerialius). This work
of Achmet is of about the same length as that of Artemidorus and
contains over three hundred chapters. It is or pretends to be drawn
mainly from Indian, Persian, and Egyptian sources and often cites
in turn the doctrine or interpretation of those three peoples, or
mentions by name interpreters of dreams of the kings and pharaohs of
those countries.[922] The preface states that the same dream must be
interpreted differently in the case of king and commoner, of rich and
poor, and according to sex. The time of the dream must also be taken
into account. For example, to see a tree blossom is a good sign in
spring but a bad omen in autumn. The hour of the night when the dream
occurs and the phases of the moon are other time factors which must be
reckoned with. The remainder of the treatise is devoted to specific
interpretation of dreams.

[Sidenote: Byzantine and oriental divinations by Daniel.]

To Joseph and Daniel, as the chief Biblical interpreters of dreams,
books on the subject were assigned in the middle ages, as John of
Salisbury has informed us. Daniel, however, seems to have been the
greater favorite. Liutprand the Lombard, who died in 972, says in the
account of his embassy to Constantinople, “The Greeks and Saracens
have books which they call the _horaseis_, or Visions, of Daniel, but
I should call them Sibylline. In them is found written how many years
each emperor will live, and what will be the character of his reign,
whether peace or strife, whether favorable or hostile relations with
the Saracens.”[923] A brief set of Greek verses in alphabetical order
ascribed to the emperor Leo, which occur in a late manuscript with
various works of the fathers, seem to resemble the Latin alphabetical
dream-books of which we shall presently treat.[924] Works of divination
were also attributed to Daniel in Syriac and Arabic, such as
predictions of rain, hail, and the like for each day of the year, and
of eclipses and earthquakes,[925] or astrological forecasts for each
month of the year.[926] There is even a geomancy in Turkish ascribed to
the prophet Daniel.[927]

[Sidenote: Latin _Dream-Books of Daniel_.]

Dream-Books ascribed to the prophet Daniel are found in Latin
manuscripts at least as early as the tenth century, and continue
through the fifteenth century despite the denial of their authenticity
by John of Salisbury in the twelfth century. At least three different
types of _Dream-Books of Daniel_ are represented in incunabula editions
in the British Museum.[928] The _Dream-Book of Joseph_ occurs with
less frequency.[929] These Latin _Dream-Books_ do not go into details
of politics like the Byzantine books which Liutprand described. The
simplest form, which we have already mentioned in speaking of the
Moon-Books of the tenth and eleventh centuries, is according to the
days of the moon.[930] It is often embodied in the fuller versions.
Their usual arrangement is an alphabetical list of objects seen in
dreams with a line of interpretation for each and perhaps a page for
each letter of the alphabet. Sample lines are:

    _Aerem serenum videre lucrum significat_
    (“To see a clear sky signifies gain”)
    _Intestina sua videre secreta manifesta_
    (“To see one’s own intestines means secrets revealed”)

This alphabetical arrangement already appears in the early
manuscripts.[931] Sometimes, however, the procedure is by opening the
Psalter at random, taking the first letter on the page opened to,
and then referring to a list where the letters of the alphabet have
various significations, such as “A signifies power of delight,” “B
signifies victory in war.”[932] This last method might, of course,
be employed without having any dream at all, and perhaps should not
be regarded as a Dream-Book. It is interesting to note that in one
manuscript it is called _Experiments of Daniel_. In these books
of Daniel further instructions are sometimes given, as when it is
stated that dreams which occur before midnight are of no value for
purposes of interpretation, or when one is told before opening the
Psalter to repeat on bended knees a Lord’s Prayer, _Ave Maria_, and
_Miserere_. Days to be observed are also sometimes mentioned as a sort
of accompaniment to the _Dream-Book_: forty dangerous days “which the
masters of the Greeks have tested by experiment,”[933] “bromantic days”
from the twenty-fourth of November to the eighteenth of December, and
“perentalic days” from the first of January to the first of March.
“And these are the days when the leaves fall from the trees,” which is
apparently supposed to have a disturbing effect upon the clarity of

[Sidenote: _Sompniale dilucidarium Pharaonis._]

_A Sompniale dilucidarium Pharaonis_, as it is entitled in the
manuscript of it which I have examined,[935] or _Morale somnium
Pharaonis_, as it is called in the printed editions,[936] was
addressed by a John of Limoges[937] to Theobald, King of Navarre and
Count of Champagne and Brie, who died in 1216.[938] It is really
not a Dream-Book but a series of imaginary and fulsomely rhetorical
letters between Pharaoh and his Magi, Pharaoh and Joseph, and Joseph
and adulators and detractors. John states in his introductory letter
to Theobald that the famous dream of Pharaoh will here be “morally
expounded concerning royal discipline.” Pharaoh typifies any curious
king; Egypt stands for any studious kingdom; Joseph represents any
virtuous counselor; and the dream will be interpolated with flowers of
rhetoric and theology.

[Sidenote: An anonymous _Exposition of Dreams_.]

More elaborate and making more pretense to philosophical character
than the brief Dream-Books of Daniel is an anonymous work on dreams
contained in a Paris manuscript of apparently the later part of the
thirteenth century.[939] It is the first treatise in the manuscript,
which further contains two important works of the first half of the
twelfth century, namely, the _Imago mundi_ of Honorius of Autun and the
_De philosophia_ of William of Conches. The texts of these two latter
works are much cut up and intermixed with each other. It is therefore
not unlikely that the opening treatise on dreams is also a work of
the twelfth century, although there does not seem to be much reason
for ascribing it either to Honorius of Autun or William of Conches. A
long _prohemium_ fails to throw much light upon the personality of the
author, but the work does not seem to be a translation. That it is not
earlier than the twelfth century is indicated by its citation of the
_Viaticum_ and _Passionarius_, presumably the well known medical works
of Constantine Africanus and Gariopontus,[940]--unless indeed it be by
Constantinus himself, to some of whose views it shows a resemblance.

[Sidenote: Physiological origin of dreams.]

The preface opens by stating that a desirable treasure lies hidden
in the heart of the wise but that it is of no utility unless it is
revealed. In other words, dreams must be interpreted. The author
regards dreams, like thoughts in general, as beginning with the
_spiritus_ which rises from the heart and ascends through two arteries
to the brain.[941] Our author perhaps still holds to Aristotle’s
view of the importance of the heart in the nervous system as against
Galen’s exclusive emphasis upon the brain, since he allots the heart a
share even in mental processes; and he seems to be ignorant of Galen’s
discovery that the arteries contain blood and not _spiritus_.

[Sidenote: Origin and justification of the art of interpretation.]

The preface goes on to justify the study of dreams on the ground that
“the most ancient Magi and perfect physicians” thereby adjudged to each
man health and sickness, life and death. “Medicine and divine thoughts,
dreams, visions, or oracles are not prohibited, but demoniacal
incantations, sorcery, lot-castings, insomnia, and vain phantasms are
condemned that you may not readily trust in them.”[942] No doctrine
is to be spurned wholesale, but only what is vicious in it. Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego excelled all the Magi and soothsayers of the
Chaldeans. Our author explains that among the Chaldeans then as today
learning consisted not of the philosophy and sophistry of the Greeks
and Latins, but of astronomy and interpretations of dreams. He alludes
to a prayer of seven verses which they repeat when going to bed in
order to receive responses in dreams. They pay little heed to the
superficial meaning of their dreams, but by examining the inner meaning
they learn either past or future. The author exhorts the person to whom
he addresses the preface to do the same, laying aside all terrors that
dreams may arouse in him. He points out that interpretation of dreams
has Biblical sanction and that Joseph, Daniel, and Marduch all profited

[Sidenote: Sources of the present treatise.]

As for the present treatise, it is collected from divine and human
scripture, based upon experience as well as reason, and drawn from
Latins, Greeks, Persians, and the annals of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar
in which many of their dreams are recorded, for they were both lovers
of the future and, since they had no philosophers like the Gentiles,
God allowed them as a compensation to foresee the future in dreams.
For by dreams life and death, poverty and riches, sickness and health,
sorrow and joy, flight and victory, are known more easily than through
astrology, a more difficult and manifold art.[943] But lest his
introduction grow too long, the author at this point ends it and begins
the text proper.

[Sidenote: Demoniac and natural causes of dreams.]

After stating what a dream is, the author discusses the origin and
causes of dreams further. Some are from the devil or at least are
influenced by demons, as when a monk was led to become a Jew by a
dream in which he saw Moses with a chorus of angels in white, while
Christ was surrounded by men in black. But when we see chimeras in
dreams, this is generally due to impurity of the blood. The author
also opines that, while the sage can judge from the nature of the
dream whether there is fallacy and illusion of the demon in it, the
origin of virtues and vices is mainly in ourselves. He who goes to
sleep with an easy conscience is unlikely to be disturbed by nightmares
and is more likely in quiet slumber to behold secrets and mysteries.
The author next discusses the effect of the passions and exercise of
the mental faculties upon the liver, heart, and brain. He adopts the
common medieval view that the brain contains three ventricles devoted
respectively to imagination, reason, and memory. He explains that the
so-called _incubus_, popularly thought of as a dwarf or satyr who
sits on the sleeper, is really a feeling of suffocation produced by
blood-pressure near the heart. The interpretation of a dream must vary
according to the social rank of the person concerned. As images in a
mirror deceive the ordinary observer but are readily accounted for
by the geometer, and as the philosopher notes the significations of
other planets than the sun and moon, whose effects alone impress the
vulgar herd, so there are dreams which only a skilled interpreter can
explain. Dreams are affected by food and by the humors prevailing in
the body, and also by the occult virtues of gems, of which a list is
given from “Evax” or Marbod.[944]

[Sidenote: Interpretation.]

The second book takes up again the varying significations of dreams
according to the person concerned, and also the significance of the
time of the dream. The four seasons, the phases of the moon, nativity
of the dreamer, and hour of the night are discussed. The remaining
two-thirds of the treatise consists in stating the interpretation to
be placed upon the varied persons and things seen in dreams, beginning
with God and Jesus Christ, and continuing with crucifixes, idols,
statues, bells, hell, the resurrection of the dead, and so on and
so forth. Early mention of eunuchs and icons suggests a Byzantine
source. More especially in the last third of the treatise, various
marginal headings indicate that the interpretations are “according
to the Indians” or “according to the Persians and Egyptians,” which
suggests that use is being made of the work of Achmet or of Leo Tuscus’
translation thereof.

[Sidenote: William of Aragon on prognostication from dreams.]

The influence of Achmet’s work is also seen in a treatise on the
prognostication of dreams compiled by master William of Aragon.[945]
It opens by referring to the labors in this art of the ancient
philosophers of India, Persia, Egypt, and Greece, and later it cites
Smarchas the Indian,[946] whom I take to be the same as the Strbachan
of Achmet’s second chapter. William justifies writing his treatise
by saying that while there may be many Dream-Books in existence
already, they are mere _Practice_ and without reason, while he intends
to base the prediction of the future from dreams upon rational
speculation, and to support his particular reasoning by specific
examples.[947] He makes more use of Aristotle’s classification of
dreams[948] than the anonymous work just considered, from which he
further differs in dwelling more upon the connection of dreams with the
constellations.[949] The second part of his treatise consists of twelve
chapters devoted to the twelve astrological houses.[950] Earlier he
mentions that at the nativity of Alexander an eagle with extended wings
rested all day on the roof of the palace of his father Philip.[951]
In stating the signification of various objects William has a chapter
on what different parts of the human body signify when seen in
dreams.[952] Like our previous works on divination from dreams, he lays
considerable stress upon experience, illustrating his statement that
dreams are often due to bodily ills by cases which “I have seen,”[953]
and also asserting that it is shown by experience that dreams seen on
the first four days of the week are most quickly fulfilled.[954]

[Sidenote: Who was William of Aragon?]

This William of Aragon is no doubt the same who commented upon the
_Centiloquium_ ascribed to Ptolemy.[955] From his medical experience
and his tendency to give an astrological explanation for everything one
is tempted to identify him further with the William Anglicus or William
of Marseilles who wrote the treatise of astrological medicine entitled,
_Of Urine Unseen_, in the year 1219, but it is of course unlikely
that the same man would be called of Aragon as well as of England
and Marseilles or that the words _Anglicus_ and _Aragonia_ should be
confused by copyists.

[Sidenote: His work formerly ascribed to Arnald of Villanova.]

The treatise on dreams has been printed among the works of Arnald
of Villanova,[956] a physician who interpreted dreams for the kings
of Aragon and Sicily at the end of the thirteenth century, under
the title _Expositio_ (or, _Expositiones_) _visionum quae fiunt in
somniis_.[957] The _Histoire Littéraire de la France_[958] has noted
that in the manuscript copies the work was anonymous and not ascribed
to Arnald, but I believe that I am the first to identify it with the
work of William of Aragon.

[Sidenote: Another anonymous work on dreams.]

In the same manuscript with the _Sompniale dilucidarium Pharaonis_ and
the work of William of Aragon on dreams just described is another long
anonymous work on the interpretation of dreams.[959] It makes the usual
points that the meaning of dreams varies with times and persons. But
the treatise consists chiefly[960] of a mass of significations which
are not even arranged in alphabetical order, a failing which it is
attempted to remedy by an alphabetical index at the close.[961]


[911] Cockayne, _Anglo-Saxon Leechdoms_, RS vol. 35, 1864-1866, III.
x. The Ὀνειροκριτικά was printed by the Aldine press at Venice, 1518;
a Latin translation by Cornarius appeared at Basel, 1539; it was
published in both Latin and Greek by N. Rigaltius at Paris, 1603; the
modern edition is by R. Hercher, Leipzig, 1864.

I have not seen P. Diepgen, _Traum und Traumdeutung als
medizinisch-naturwissenschaftliches Problem im Mittelalter_, Berlin,

[912] Its full title reads: _Artemidori Daldiani et Achmetis Sereimi
F. (filius) Oneirocritica. Astranpsychi et Nicephori versus etiam
Oneirocritici. Nicolai Rigaltii ad Artemidorum Notae_. Paris. 1603.

[913] They cover only twenty pages in large type as against the
269 pages of small type of _Artemidorus_. _Astrampsychos_ was also
published at Amsterdam in 1689 with the _Oracula Sibyllina_ by S.

[914] Proem. 2.

[915] Papyrus 122.

[916] See note 1 on this page. The work was previously printed at
Frankfort under the title _Apomasaris Apotelesmata_ or _Predictions of
Albumasar_. There is some matter missing at the beginning of both of
these editions of the work.

[917] Rigaltius, however, states that Achmet’s name did not appear in
either of the two Latin MSS at Paris which he used, nor in the Greek
one; but the opening of his text, as just stated in the previous note,
seems defective.

On Ahmed ben Sirin see: Drexl, _Achmets Traumbuch_ (_Einleitung und
Probe eines kritischen Textes_), Munich dissertation, 1909; and
articles by Steinschneider in _Zeitschrift d. deutsch. Morgenl.
Gesellschaft_, XVII, 227-44, _Vienna Sitzungsberichte_, _Phil-hist.
Kl._ CLXIX, 53 and CLI, 2: cited by Haskins (1918), p. 494, note 12.

[918] Krumbacher (1897), p. 630.

[919] _Cat. Cod. Astrol. Graec._, II, 122, Achmet, _De introductione et
fundamento astrologiae_. ἡ ποίησις τούτου τοῦ τοιούτου βιβλίου ἐκ τῶν
βιβλίων τῶν Περσῶν ὃ ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἀχμάτης, ὅστις ὡς ἔφη συνῆξε τὰ βιβλία
τὰ εὑρισκόμενα ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἀδὰμ μέχρι τῆς αὐτοῦ ἡμέρας.

Since this astrological work mentions Albumasar, while Achmet, the
author of the dream-book, wrote early in the ninth century, the editors
of the _Catalogus_ doubt if the two Achmets are the same, but it should
be noted that in the astrological treatise Achmet is spoken of in the
third person and that it may be a re-editing of his original work. On
the other hand, perhaps this astrological Achmet is Alphraganus, or
Ahmetus filius Ahmeti (Ameti), as he is often called.

[920] C. H. Haskins, _Leo Tuscus_, in EHR (1918), pp. 492-6. Leo’s
activity as a translator is further attested by BN 1002, “Liturgia
sancti Joannis Chrysostomi,” printed in Claudius de Sainctes,
_Liturgiae sive Missae Sanctorum Patrum_, Antwerp, 1562, fol. 49.

[921] Haskins, _op. cit._, prints the prologue from the first of the
following MSS of Leo’s Latin translation.

Digby 103, late 12th century, fol. 59-, “Ad Hugonem Ecerialium doctorem
suum et utraque origine fratrem Leo Tuscus imperatoriarum epistolarum
interpres de sompniis et oraculis.” “Explicit liber sompniorum Latine
doctus loqui a Leone Thusco imperialium epistolarum interprete
temporibus magni imperatoris Manuel.” Neither this Titulus to the
prologue nor this Explicit appears in the printed edition of 1603.

Wolfenbüttel 2917, 13-14th century, fols. 1-20, “Ad Hugonem Eteriarium
doctorem summum et utraque origine fratrem Leo Tuscus imperatoriarum
epistolarum interpres de somniis et oraculis. Quamquam, optime
preceptor, invictum imperatorem Manuel sequar per fines Bithinie
Licaonieque fugantem Persas.” Haskins (1918), p. 494, shows that this
statement applies to the year 1176 rather than 1160-1161 as scholars
have previously held.

Haskins also lists the following MSS: Harleian 4025, fols. 8-78;
Ashmole 179; Vatic. Lat. 4094, fols. 1-32v; but does not mention these:

BN 7337, 15th century, pp. 141-61, which has the same Titulus and
includes the prologue, a table of 198 chapters, and the text as far as
the 37th chapter, De ventre.

Vienna 5221, 15th century, 136 fols., “Laborans laboraui inveniendum
... / ... huiusmodi egritudinem jnueniret. Explicit liber sompniorum
latine doctus loqui a leone Imperialium epistolarum interprete
temporibus Magni Imperatoris Manuel.”

[922] Preface, “ac primo quidem secundum Indorum doctrinam, deinde
Persarum, tum denique Aegyptiorum”; cap. 2, “Strbachan regis Indorum
interpres ait”; cap. 3, “Baram Interpres Saanissae Persarum regi”; cap.
4, “Tarphan Interpres Pharaonis regis Aegyptiorum.”

[923] Quoted by Haskins and Lockwood, _The Sicilian Translators_, 1910,
p. 93, from the _Legatio_, ed. Dümmler, Hanover, 1877, pp. 152-3.

[924] BN 3282, 17th century, fols. 27v-29r, Leonis (sapientis) imp.
versus alphabetici de futuro judicio.

[925] Bodleian 3004, #15 (Qu. Catal. VI, Syriac, #161), Arabice literis

[926] Alger 1517 and 1518, in Arabic but according to the months of the
Syrian year.

[927] Additional 9702.

[928] _Sōnia Daniel’_ (IA.8754), “Danielis somniorum expositoris
veridici libellus incipit.... Ego sum daniel propheta unus de
israhelitis qui captivi ducti sunt....”

_Somnia Danielis et Ioseph_ (IA.31744), “Omnes prophete tradebant
somnia que videbant in somniis eorum et solus propheta Daniel filius
Iude qui captus a rege Nabuchudonosor....” This is followed by a second
treatise which opens, “Incipiunt somnia quae composuit Joseph dum
captus erat a rege Pharaone in egypto....”

_Interpretationes somniorum Danielis prophete revelate ab angelo misso
a deo_ (IA.11607, and IA.18164 is very similar).

The Incipit in the second edition is given in more nearly correct form
in Sloane 3281, 13-14th century, fol. 39r, “Omnes homines tradebant
sompnia que tradebant (?) ut solveret propheta daniel....”

Another opening, found in the MSS, states that the princes of Babylonia
asked the prophet Daniel to interpret their dreams. See Digby 86, late
13th century, fols. 34v-40r, “Daniel propheta petebatur a principiis
civitatis Babilone ut somnia que eis videbantur solvere (solveret?).
Tunc sedit et hec omnia scribat (et) tradidit populo ad legendum.” The
first two lines of interpretation are:

“Arma in somniis portare securitatem significat; Arcum tendere et
sagittas mittere lucrum vel laborem significat.”

(“To bear arms in dreams signifies security; To draw bow and shoot
arrows signifies gain or labor.”)

Bodleian 177 (Bernard 2072), late 14th century, fol. 64r, opens
somewhat differently, “Danielem prophetam cum esset in Babilonia
petebant principes,” and its first two lines of interpretation are:

“Aves cum se pugnare videre fecundiam significat; Aves in sompniis
apprehendere lucrum significat.”

(“To see birds fight among themselves signifies fecundity; To catch
birds in one’s dreams signifies gain.”)

[929] For a printed edition see the second item in the preceding note.

CLM 7806, 14th century, fol. 153, where as in the printed edition it
follows a _Dream-Book of Daniel_.

Vatican Palat. 330, 15th century, fol. 303v.

[930] For instance, Chartres 90, end of tenth century, fol. 16,
“Somnium Danielis prophete. Luna I. Quidquid videris ad gaudium
pertinet. Luna II et III et IIII. Bonus affectus erit,” etc.

[931] Tiberius A-III, fols. 25v-30v; Titus D-XXVI, fols. 11v-16r;
Sloane 475, fols. 217v-218r, breaking off in the midst of the letter B.
In Harleian 3017, fol. iv-, however, the lines of interpretation are
not in alphabetical order.

[932] This is the method in the second part of the printed edition
numbered IA.8754 in the British Museum. See also: BN 7453, 14th
century, #3, Ars psalterii a Daniele inventa; BN 7349, 15th century,
Danielis experimenta sive modus divinandi ad aperturam psalterii et
conjiciendi per somnia.

[933] Ashmole 361, 14th century, fols. 158v-159.

[934] Sloane 3281, fol. 39r; also in IA.31744, except that the names
are misspelled.

[935] St. John’s 172, 15th century, fols. 99v-123, where the work is
rather appropriately preceded by two treatises on Ars dictaminis. Our
author, according to Fabricius, _Bibl. Med. et Inf. Lat._, Padua, 1754,
IV, 90, also wrote _De Stylo dictionario_. Other MSS of the _Sompniale_
are CUL Dd. iv. 35, 15th century, fols. 49r-73v, and Ii. vi. 34.

[936] The first 18 letters were printed at Altdorf, 1690, by J. C.
Wagenseil, and in Fabricius, _Cod. Pseud. Vet. Test._, 1713, I, 441-96.
For letters 19 and 20 see Fabricius, _Bibl. Med. et Inf. Lat._, 1754,
IV, 91-4.

[937] Joannes Lemovicensis; but Fabricius calls him “Joannes a Launha,
Lemovicensis.” Steele (1920) p. ix, calls him “Jean de Launha or de

[938] Steele (1920) p. ix, however, says, “but modern scholars put the
date as about 1250, a much more probable one.” Steele does not add his
references or reasons for this statement.

[939] BN 16610, fols. 2r-24r, _Expositio somniorum_. It opens,
“Thesaurus occultus requiescit in corde sapientis et immo desiderabilis
sed in thesauro occulto et in sapientia abscondita nulla pene utilitas
ergo revelanda sunt abscondita et patefacienda que sunt occulta.” It
closes, “... ventus si flavit in hyeme calidus fructus frugisque in
illo loco erit copia frigidus et acer (?) ventus in hyeme visus per
sompnium contrarium in messe significat si frigidus. Explicit expositio

The mistakes made in the text in such matters as case-endings and
abbreviations indicate that our MS is not by the hand of the author but
by that of some later and careless copyist. A number of corrections
of the text have been made in the margin or between the lines, and
apparently the same hand has written in the margin or between the lines
a number of headings to indicate the contents. These occur chiefly,
however, towards the close of the work.

[940] BN 16610, fol. 7v, “Fiunt preterea sompnia secundum qualitates
ciborum et humorum a quibus et certissima signa ut diximus cuiusque
infirmitatis capiuntur sicut in viatico et passionario demonstrantur.”

[941] The point is repeated in the text proper at fol. 4r. In the
preface at fol. 2r the author also states that a small boy can be put
into a stupor when standing up, by pressing his arteries between the
thumb and forefinger so that “the vapor of the heart cannot ascend to
the brain.”

[942] _Ibid._, fol. 3r.

[943] BN 16610, fol. 3v.

[944] BN 16610, fols. 4r-8r. In my summary I have followed the order of
the text for the first book.

[945] BN 7486, fols. 2-16r, “Incipit liber de pronosticationibus
sompniorum a magistro Guillelmo de aragonia compilatus. Philosophantes
antiquos sive yndos sive persos sive egyptios sive grecos.”

St. John’s 172, early 15th century, fols. 140-52, where it appears

It is listed in the 15th century catalogue of MSS in St. Augustine’s
Abbey, Canterbury, 1545, Tractatus W. de Arrogon de interpretatione

[946] Simarchardus, as printed in the works of Arnald of Villanova.

[947] St. John’s 172, fol. 140v.

[948] BN 7486, fols. 3v-4r.

[949] _Ibid._, fols. 4v-6v.

[950] _Ibid._, fols. 10r-16r.

[951] _Ibid._, fol. 6r.

[952] _Ibid._, fol. 7v.

[953] _Ibid._, fol. 9r.

[954] _Ibid._, fol. 9v.

[955] Harleian 1, 13-14th century, fol. 76v-.

[956] See below for a chapter concerning him.

[957] In the edition of Lyons, 1532, at fols. 290-2.

[958] HL 28, 76-7.

[959] St. John’s 172, fols. 153-209r, “Summus opifex deus qui
postquam homines ad ymaginem suam plasmaverit animam rationalem eidem
coniunxerit ratione cuius malum a bono discernit suum creatorem
laudando unde anima futura in sompniis comprehendit sive bonum sive
malum in posterum futurum....”

[960] _Ibid._, fols. 153v-208v.

[961] _Ibid._, fols. 209v-212r.



 Chapter 51. Michael Scot.

 Chapter 52. William of Auvergne.

 Chapter 53. Thomas of Cantimpré.

 Chapter 54. Bartholomew of England.

 Chapter 55. Robert Grosseteste.

 Chapter 56. Vincent of Beauvais.

 Chapter 57. Early Thirteenth Century Medicine:
             Gilbert of England and William of England.

 Chapter 58. Petrus Hispanus.

 Chapter 59. Albertus Magnus.
                 I. Life.
                II. As a scientist.
               III. His allusions to magic.
                IV. Marvelous virtues in nature.
                 V. Attitude toward astrology.

 Chapter 60. Thomas Aquinas.

 Chapter 61. Roger Bacon.
                 I. Life.
                II. Criticism of and part in medieval learning.
               III. His experimental science.
                IV. Attitude toward magic and astrology.
                 V. Conclusion.

 Chapter 62. The Speculum Astronomiae.

 Chapter 63. Three Treatises Ascribed to Albert.

 Chapter 64. Experiments and Secrets of Galen, Rasis, and Others
                 I. Medical and Biological.
                II. Chemical and Magical.

 Chapter 66. Picatrix.

 Chapter 67. Guido Bonatti and Bartholomew of Parma.

 Chapter 68. Arnald of Villanova.

 Chapter 69. Raymond Lull.

 Chapter 70. Peter of Abano.

 Chapter 71. Cecco d’Ascoli.

 Chapter 72. Conclusion.



In our preceding book on the twelfth century we included some writers,
like Alexander Neckam, who lived on a few years into the following
century but whose works were probably written in the twelfth. We now,
with Michael Scot, begin to treat of authors whose period of literary
productivity dates after 1200. We shall endeavor to consider the
various authors and works in something like chronological order, but
this is often difficult to determine and in one or two cases we shall
purposely disregard strict chronology in order to bring works of the
same sort together. Our last four chapters on Arnald of Villanova,
Raymond Lull, Peter of Abano, and Cecco d’Ascoli carry us over the
threshold of the fourteenth century, the death of the last-named not
occurring until 1327.

Greater voluminousness and thoroughness mark the work of these writers
as compared with those of the twelfth century. The work of translation
has been partly accomplished; that of compilation, reconciliation,
criticism, and further personal investigation and experimentation
proceeds more rapidly and extensively. The new Friar Orders invade the
world of learning as of everything else: of the writers whose names
head the following chapters Bartholomew of England and Roger Bacon were
Franciscans;[962] Thomas of Cantimpré, Vincent of Beauvais, Albertus
Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas were Dominicans. In these representatives of
the new religious Orders, however, theology cannot be said to absorb
attention at the expense of natural science. The prohibitions of the
study of the works of Aristotle in the field of natural philosophy by
the University of Paris early in the century preceded the friars and
were not lasting, and the mid-century struggle of the friars with the
other teachers at Paris[963] was one over privilege and organization
rather than tenets. Teachers and writers were, however, sometimes
condemned for their intellectual views at Paris and elsewhere in the
thirteenth century, and whether the study of natural science and
astrology was persecuted is a question which will arise more than once.
In any case the friars seem to have declined in scientific prowess as
in other respects toward the close of the century. Petrus Hispanus, who
became Pope John XXI in 1276-1277, had not been a friar himself, and is
said to have been more favorable to men of learning than to the regular
clergy. Finally, in Guido Bonatti, Arnald of Villanova, Peter of Abano,
and Cecco d’Ascoli we come to laymen, physicians and astrologers, who
were to some extent either anti-clerical themselves or the object of
clerical attack.

This was the century in which Roger Bacon launched his famous eulogy of
experimental science. A good-sized fleet of passages recognizing its
importance will be found, however, in our other authors, and we shall
need to devote two chapters to experimental books which were either
anonymous or pretended to date back to ancient or Arabic authors. And
not without some justification, since we have been tracing the history
of experimental science through our previous books.


[962] Little that is new on the theme of the Franciscans and learning
is contributed by H. Felder, _Geschichte der wissenschaftlichen Studien
im Franziskanerorden bis um die Mitte des 13 Jahrhunderts_, Freiburg,

[963] Concerning it consult F. X. Seppelt, _Der Kampf der Bettelorden
an die Universität Paris in der Mitte des 13 Jahrhunderts_, Breslau,
1905, in _Kirchengesch. Abhandl._, III; or H. Rashdall, _The
Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages_, I, v, 2, “The Mendicants
and the University”; or P. Feret, _La faculté de théologie de Paris:
moyen âge_, Paris, 1894-1897, 4 vols.; and other works listed by Paetow
(1917), p. 441.



 Bibliographical note--Michael Scot and Frederick
 II--Some dates in Michael’s career--Michael Scot
 and the papacy--Prominent position in the world of
 learning--Relation to the introduction of the new
 Aristotle--Thirteenth century criticism of Michael
 Scot--General estimate of his learning--God and the
 stars--A theological digression--The three Magi--Astrology
 distinguished from magic--The magic arts--Experiments
 of magic--History of astronomy--The spirits in the sky,
 air, and earth--Occult medicine--The seven regions of the
 air--Michael’s miscellaneous content--Further astrological
 doctrine--Omission of nativities--Magic for every
 hour--Quaint religious science--The _Phisionomia_--Influence
 of the stars on human generation--Discussion of
 divination--Divination from dreams--Works of divination
 ascribed to Michael Scot--Medical writings--Occult
 virtues--Astrology in the _Commentary on the
 Sphere_--Dionysius the Areopagite and the solar eclipse
 during Christ’s passion--Alchemy--Works of alchemy ascribed
 to Michael Scot--Brother Elias and alchemy--_Liber luminis
 luminum_ and _De alchemia_--Their further characteristics.

[Sidenote: Michael Scot and Frederick II.]

But little can be said with certainty concerning the life of Michael
Scot.[964] However, a poem by Henry of Avranches, addressed to the
emperor Frederick II in 1235 or 1236,[965] shows that Michael was then
dead and that he apparently had occupied the position of astrologer at
the court of Frederick II at the time of his death. The poet explains
how astrologers (_mathematici_) “reveal the secrets of things,” by
their art affecting numbers, by numbers affecting the procession of
the stars, and by the stars moving the universe. He recalls having
heard “certain predictions concerning you, O Caesar, from Michael Scot
who was a scrutinizer of the stars, an augur, a soothsayer, a second
Apollo”; and then tells how “the truthful diviner Michael” ceased
to publish his secrets to the world, and “the announcer of fates
submitted to fate,” apparently in the midst of some prediction made
on his death-bed. Michael’s own statements also show that he was one
of Frederick’s astrologers.[966] If at the time of his death Michael
was Frederick’s astrologer, it is more questionable at what date his
association with Frederick began, and in what countries Michael resided
with the emperor, or accompanied him to, whether Sicily, southern
Italy, northern Italy, or Germany. From the fact that three of Michael
Scot’s works, or rather, the three chief divisions of his longest
extant work,[967] namely, _Liber Introductorius_, _Liber Particularis_,
and _Phisionomia_, were written at the request of Frederick II for
beginners[968] and apparently in the time of Innocent III,[969] J.
Wood Brown jumped to the conclusion that Michael was Frederick’s tutor
before that monarch came of age, and that he spent some time in the
island of Sicily, from which Brown failed to distinguish Frederick’s
larger kingdom of Sicily.[970] As a matter of fact, there would seem
to be rather more evidence for connecting Michael with Salerno than
with any Sicilian city, since in one manuscript of his translation
for the emperor of the work of Avicenna on animals he is spoken of as
“an astronomer of Salerno,”[971] while in another manuscript he is
associated with a Philip, clerk of the king of Sicily, and this royal
notary in two deeds of 1200 is called Philip of Salerno.[972] Brown was
inclined to identify him further with Philip of Tripoli, the translator
of the pseudo-Aristotelian _Secret of Secrets_.

[Sidenote: Some dates in Michael’s career.]

No date in Michael’s career before the thirteenth century is fixed. If
it is true that the three sections of his main work were written under
Innocent III, that places them between 1198 and 1216. The date of his
translation of the astronomical work of Alpetragius or Alpetrangi (Nûr
ed-din el-Betrûgî, Abû Ishâq) seems to have been in the year 1217 on
Friday, August 18, in the third hour and at Toledo.[973] Brown holds
that Michael translated Avicenna on animals in 1210 for Frederick II
and that the emperor kept it to himself until 1232, when he allowed
Henry of Cologne to copy it.[974] But the date 1210 perhaps applies
only to a glossary of Arabic terms which accompanies the work and which
is ascribed to a “Master Al.”[975] In a thirteenth century manuscript
at Cambridge Michael Scot’s translation of Aristotle’s _History of
Animals_ is accompanied by a note which begins, “And I Michael Scot
who translated this book into Latin swear that in the year 1221 on
Wednesday, October twenty-first.”[976] The note and date, however, do
not refer to the completion of the translation but to a consultation
in which a woman showed him two stones like eggs which came from
another woman’s womb and of which he gives a painstakingly detailed
description. There is, however, something wrong with the date, since in
1221 the twenty-first of October fell on Thursday.[977]

[Sidenote: Michael Scot and the papacy.]

The career of Michael Scot affords an especially good illustration
of how little likelihood there was of anyone’s being persecuted by
the medieval church for belief in or practice of astrology. Michael,
although subordinating the stars to God and admitting human free will,
as we shall see, both believed in the possibility of astrological
prediction and made such predictions himself. Yet he was a clergyman,
perhaps even a doctor of theology,[978] as well as a court astrologer,
and furthermore was a clergyman of sufficient rank and prominence
to enable Pope Honorius III to procure in 1224 his election to the
archbishopric of Cashel in Ireland.[979] At the same time the papal
_curia_ issued a dispensation permitting Michael to hold a plurality,
so that he evidently already occupied some desirable benefice. Michael
declined the archbishopric of Cashel, on the ground that he was
ignorant of the native language but perhaps because he preferred a
position in England; for we find the papacy renewing its efforts in
his behalf, and Gregory IX on April 28, 1227, again wrote to Stephen
Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, urging him to make provision for
“master Michael Scot,” whom he characterized as “well instructed not
only in Latin but also in the Hebrew and Arabic languages.”[980]

[Sidenote: Prominent position in the world of learning.]

Whether Michael ever secured the additional foreign benefice or not,
he seems to have remained in Italy with Frederick until the end of
his days. He also seems to have continued prominent among men of
learning, since in 1228 Leonardo of Pisa dedicated to him the revised
and enlarged version of his _Liber abaci_,[981] important in connection
with the introduction of the Hindu-Arabic numerals into western Europe.

[Sidenote: Relation to the introduction of the new Aristotle.]

Roger Bacon in the _Opus Maius_[982] in a passage often cited by
historians of medieval thought ascribes the introduction of the new
Aristotle into western Latin Christendom to Michael Scot who, he says,
appeared in 1230 A. D. with portions of the works of Aristotle in
natural philosophy and metaphysics. Before his time there were only
the works on logic and a few others translated by Boethius from the
Greek; since 1230 the philosophy of Aristotle “has been magnified
among the Latins.” Although many writers have quoted this statement
as authoritative in one way or another, it must now be regarded as
valuable only as one more illustration of the loose and misleading
character of most of Roger’s allusions to past learning and to the
work of previous translators. We know that the books of Aristotle on
natural philosophy had become so well known by that time that in 1210
the study of them was forbidden at the university of Paris, and that
about that same year, according to Rigord’s chronicle of the reign of
Philip II, the books of Metaphysics of Aristotle were brought from
Constantinople, translated from Greek into Latin, and began to be read
at Paris.[983] But Bacon’s date is more than twenty years too late, and
we have already mentioned the translation of _The Secret of Secrets_,
which Bacon regarded as genuine, the acquaintance of Alexander Neckam
with works of Aristotle, Alfred of England’s translation of the _De
vegetabilibus_ and of three additional chapters to the _Meteorology_,
the still earlier translation of the rest of that work by Aristippus
from the Greek and by Gerard of Cremona from the Arabic, and Gerard’s
numerous other translations of works of Aristotle in natural
philosophy. The translations of Gerard and Aristippus take us back to
the middle of the twelfth century nearly a century before the date set
by Bacon for the introduction of the new Aristotle.[984] Michael Scot,
then, did not introduce the works of Aristotle on natural science and
Bacon’s chronological recollections are obviously too faulty for us to
accept the date 1230 as of any exact significance in even Michael’s own
career, to say nothing of the history of the translation of Aristotle.

This is not to say that Michael was not of some importance in that
process, since he did translate works of Aristotle and his Arabic
commentators, especially Avicenna and Averroes. Frederick II is
sometimes said to have ordered the translation from Greek and Arabic
of such works of Aristotle and other philosophers as had not yet
been translated from Greek or Arabic.[985] But the letter which has
been ascribed in this connection to Frederick is really by his son
and successor, Manfred,[986] for whom many translations were made,
including several Aristotelian treatises, genuine and spurious, by
Bartholomew of Messina. Already, however, in 1231 and 1232 a Jew at
Naples had translated Averroes’ abridgement of the _Almagest_ and
his commentary on the _Organon_, in the latter extolling Frederick’s
munificence and love of science.[987] Michael Scot has been shown to
have translated from the Arabic the _History of Animals_ and other
works on animals, making nineteen books in all, and also Avicenna’s
compendium of the same, the _De caelo et mundo_, the _De anima_ with
the commentary of Averroes, and perhaps the _Metaphysics_ or part of
it.[988] His translation of the _De caelo et mundo_ was accompanied by
a translation of Alpetrangi’s commentary on the same.[989]

[Sidenote: Thirteenth century criticism of Michael Scot.]

Scholars of the succeeding generation sometimes spoke unfavorably of
Michael’s work. Although Roger Bacon recognized his translations as the
central event in the Latin reception of the Aristotelian philosophy,
and spoke of him as “a notable inquirer into matter, motion, and
the course of the constellations,”[990] he listed him among those
translators who “understood neither sciences nor languages, not even
Latin,” and charged more than once that a Jew named Andrew was really
responsible for the translations credited to Michael.[991] Albertus
Magnus asserted that Michael Scot “in reality was ignorant concerning
nature and did not understand the books of Aristotle well.”[992] Yet
he used Michael’s translation of the _Historia Animalium_ as the basis
of his own work on the subject, often following it word for word.[993]
Michael was, however, listed or cited as an authority by the thirteenth
century encyclopedists, Thomas of Cantimpré, Bartholomew of England,
Vincent of Beauvais, and at the close of that century is frequently
cited by the physician Arnald of Villanova in his _Breviarium

[Sidenote: General estimate of his learning.]

Michael Scot may be said to manifest some of the failings of the
learning of his time in a rather excessive degree. His mind, curious,
credulous, and uncritical, seems to have collected a mass of undigested
information and superstition with little regard to consistency or
system. Occasionally he includes the most childish and naïve sort of
material, as we shall illustrate later. He continues the Isidorean
type of etymology, deriving the name of the month of May, for example,
either from the majesty of Jupiter, or from the major chiefs of
Rome who in that month were wont to dedicate laws to Jupiter, or
from the _maioribus_ in the sense of elders as June is derived from
Juniors.[995] He also well illustrates the puerilities and crudities
of scholastic argumentation. Thus one of the arguments which he lists
against regarding a sphere as a solid body is that solids can be
measured by a straight line and that it cannot.[996] Asking whether
fire is hot in its own sphere, he says that it might seem not,
because fire in its own sphere is light and light is neither hot nor
cold.[997] This argument he rebuts in the end, and he finally decides
that a sphere is a solid. But he would have seemed wiser to the modern
reader to have omitted these particular contrary arguments entirely.
Such propositions continue, however, to be set up and knocked down
again all through the thirteenth century, and such famous men as
Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Abano are guilty of much the same sort
of thing. To Michael Scot’s credit may be mentioned his considerable
power of experimentation and of scientific observation. Perhaps some
of the “experiments” attributed to him are spurious, but they show
the reputation which he had for experimental method, and on the whole
it would seem to be justified. The note in his name in a thirteenth
century manuscript at Cambridge,[998] giving a carefully dated and
detailed account of two human foetuses which had solidified into stones
like eggs, shows a keen sense of the value of thorough observation
and a precise record of the same. Experimental science would seem to
have received considerable encouragement at the court of Frederick II,
judging from the stories told of that emperor and the pages of his own
work on falconry.[999]

[Sidenote: God and the stars.]

But let us examine Michael’s views and methods more particularly. In
opening the long preface to his voluminous _Introduction to Astrology_
he states that hard study is requisite to become a good astrologer,
but he finds incentive to such effort in citations from Seneca, Cato,
and St. Bernard that it is virtuous to study and to be taught, and
in the reflection that one who knows the conditions and habitudes of
the superior bodies can easily learn those of inferior bodies. The
signs and planets are not first movers or first causes, and do not
of themselves confer aught of good or evil, but by their motion do
indicate “something of truth concerning every body produced in this
corruptible world.” The hour of conception is important and Michael
explains why two persons born at the same moment may be unlike. He
then jumbles together from Christian and astrological writers such
assertions as that the stars are only signs, not causes, and that their
influence on inferior creation may be compared to the action of the
magnet upon iron, or that we see on earth good men suffer and bad men
prosper, which has usually been regarded as a better argument for a
fatalistic or mechanical universe than for divine control. He agrees
that the universe is not eternal and that everything is in God’s power,
but insists that much can be learned concerning the future from the

[Sidenote: A theological digression.]

Michael then embarks upon a long theological digression[1001] in the
course of which he quotes much Scripture concerning the two natures,
angelic and human. After telling us of the nine orders of angels in the
empyrean heaven, he deals with the process of creation, just as William
of Conches and Daniel of Morley had done in their works of astronomy
and astrology. In the first three days God created spiritual substances
such as the empyrean heaven, angels, stars, and planets; in the other
three days, visible bodies such as mixtures of the elements, birds,
fish, and man. Michael also answers various questions such as why man
was created last, although nobler than other creatures, what an angel
is, whether angels have individual names like men, and much concerning
the tenth part who fell. Perhaps the emperor Frederick is supposed to
put these queries to Michael, but there seemed to be no indication
to that effect in the manuscript which I examined. The reply to the
question where God resides is, potentially everywhere but substantially
in the intellectual or empyrean heaven.[1002] Michael discusses the holy
Trinity and thinks that we have a similitude of it in the rational
soul in the three faculties, intellect, reason, and memory,[1003]
although he attempts no association of these with the three Persons
as William of Conches imprudently did in the case of power, wisdom,
and will. He indulges, however, in daring speculation as to where the
members of different professions will go after they die. Philosophers,
“who die in the Lord,” will be located in the order of Cherubim, which
is interpreted as plenitude of science; sincere members of religious
orders and hermits will become Seraphim; while pope, emperor,
cardinals, and prelates will enter the order of Thrones.[1004] Michael
also contributes the following acrostic of eight sins whose initials
compose the word, “Diabolus”:

  Ventris ingluvies

[Sidenote: The three Magi.]

In the course of the foregoing digression Michael inserted an account
of the Magi and the star that appears to be based in part but with
variations on the spurious homily of Chrysostom. He makes them three in
number, one from Europe, Asia, and Africa respectively; and states that
forewarned by Balaam’s prophecy they met together annually for worship
on the day of Christ’s nativity, which they appear to have known
beforehand. They stood in adoration for three days continuously on
Mount Victorialis until on the third day they saw the star in the form
of a most beautiful boy with a crown on his head. Then they followed
the star upon dromedaries which, Michael explains, can go farther in
a day than horses can in two months. Beside the star three suns arose
that day at equal distances apart and then united in token of the
Trinity; and Octavianus, emperor of the Romans, saw the Virgin holding
the Child in the center of the sun’s disk. As for the word _magus_,
Michael explains that it has a threefold meaning,--which, however, has
nothing to do with the Trinity,--namely: trickster, sorcerer, and wise
man, and that the Magi who saw the star were all three of these until
their subsequent conversion to Christianity.[1006]

[Sidenote: Astrology distinguished from magic.]

The remainder of Michael’s lengthy and lumbering preface is largely
occupied with the utility of astrology, which he often calls
“astronomy” (_astronomia_), and differentiation of it from prohibited
arts of magic and divination. While, however, he distinguishes these
other occult arts from astrology, he affirms that nigromancers,
practitioners of the notory art, and alchemists owe more to the
stars than they are ready to admit.[1007] He also distinguishes a
superstitious variety of astrology (_superstitiosa astronomia_),[1008]
under which caption he seems to have in mind divination from the
letters of persons’ names and the days of the moon, and other methods
in which the astronomer or astrologer acts like a geomancer or sorcerer
or tries to find out more than God wills. Scot also distinguishes
between _mathesis_, or knowledge, and _matesis_, or divination, and
between _mathematica_, which may be taught freely and publicly, and
_matematica_, which is forbidden to Christians.[1009]

[Sidenote: The magic arts.]

Michael condemns magic and necromancy but takes evident joy in telling
stories of magicians and necromancers and shows much familiarity with
books of magic. He explains “nigromancy” as black art, dealing with
dark things and performed more by night than day, as well as the
raising of the dead to give responses, in which the nigromancer is
deceived by demons.[1010] He repeats Hugh of St. Victor’s definition
that the magic art is not received in philosophy, destroys religion,
and corrupts morals. As he has said before, the _magus_ is a trickster
and evil-doer as well as wise in the secrets of nature and in
prediction of the future.[1011] Michael lists twenty-eight varieties
or methods of divination. He believes that they are all true: augury
by song of birds, interpretation of dreams, observance of days, or
divination by holocausts of blood and corpses. But they are forbidden
as infamous and evil. Later on, in the text itself, he returns to this
point, saying that these methods of predicting the future are against
the Christian Faith, but nevertheless true, like the marvels of Simon
Magus.[1012] Michael defines and describes various magic arts in much
the same manner as Isidore, Hugh of St. Victor, and John of Salisbury;
but with some divergences. Under aerimancy he includes divination from
thunder, comets, and falling stars, as well as from the shapes assumed
by clouds. Hydromancy he calls “a short art of experimenting” as well
as divining. The gazing into clear, transparent, or liquid surfaces
for purposes of divination is performed, he says, with some observance
of astrological hours, secrecy, and purity by a child of five or seven
years who repeats after the master an incantation or invocation of
spirits over human blood or bones. He speaks of a _maleficus_ as one
who interprets characters, phylacteries, incantations, dreams, and
makes ligatures of herbs. The _praestigiosus_ deceives men through
diabolic art by phantastic illusions of transformation, such as
changing a woman into a dog or bear, making a man appear a wolf or ass,
or causing a human head or limb to resemble that of some animal. Even
alchemy, or perhaps only the superstitious practice of it, Michael
seems to classify as a forbidden magic art, saying, “Alchemy as it were
transcends the heavens in that it strives by the virtue of spirits to
transmute common metals into gold and silver and from them to make a
water of much diversity,” that is, an elixir. Lot-casting, on the other
hand, both the authority of Augustine and many passages in the Bible
pronounce licit.

[Sidenote: Experiments of magic.]

Michael more than once ascribes an experimental character to magic
arts. Besides calling hydromancy “a short art of experimenting,” he
states that, since demons are naturally fond of blood and especially
human blood, nigromancers or magicians, when they wish to perform
experiments, often mix water with real blood or use wine which has
been exorcized in order to make it appear bloody. “And they make some
sacrifice with the flesh of a living human being, for instance, a
bit of their own flesh, or of a corpse, and not the flesh of brutes,
knowing that consecration of a spirit in a bottle or ring cannot be
achieved except by the performance of many sacrifices.”[1013] Despite
his censure of the art in the preface under discussion, we find a
necromantic experiment of an elaborate character ascribed to Michael
Scot in a fifteenth century manuscript[1014] which purports to copy it
“from a very ancient book,”[1015] a phrase which scarcely increases
our confidence in the genuineness of the ascription. The object of the
experiment is to secure the services of a demon to instruct one in
learning. Times and astrological conditions are to be observed as well
as various other preliminaries and ceremonies; a white dove is to be
beheaded, its blood collected in a glass vessel, a magic circle drawn
with its bleeding heart; and various prayers to God, invocations of
spirits, and verses of the Bible are to be repeated. At one juncture,
however, one is warned _not_ to make the sign of the cross or one will
be in great peril.

[Sidenote: History of astronomy.]

But to return to Michael’s _magnum opus_. The preface closes with a
rather long and very confused[1016] account of the history of astronomy
and astrology. While Zoroaster of the lineage of Shem was the inventor
of magic, the arts of divination began with Cham, the son of Noah,
who was both of most subtle genius and trained in the schools of the
demons. He tested by experience what they taught him and having proved
what was true, indited the same on two columns and taught it to his
son Canaan who soon outstripped his father therein and wrote thirty
volumes on the arts of divination and instructed his son Nemroth in
the same. When Canaan was slain in war and his books were burned,
Nemroth revived the art of astronomy from memory and was, like his
father, deemed a god by many because of his great lore. He composed a
work on the subject for his son Ionicon,[1017] whose son Abraham also
became an adept in the art and came from Africa to Jerusalem and taught
Demetrius and Alexander of Alexandria, who in turn instructed Ptolemy,
king of Egypt, who invented astronomical canons and tables and the
astrolabe and quadrant. The giant Atlas brought the art to Spain before
Moses received the two tables containing the ten commandments. If this
chronology surprises us, there is something more amazing to follow. At
this point in the manuscript the copyist has either omitted a great
deal[1018] or Atlas was extremely long-lived, since we next read
about his showing the astrolabe to two “clerks of France.” Gilbertus
(presumably Gerbert) borrowed the instrument for a while, conjured up
demons--for he was the best nigromancer in France, made them explain
its construction, uses, and operation to him, and furthermore all the
rest of astronomy. Later he reformed and had no more dealing with
demons and became bishop of Ravenna and Pope. Having thus got rather
ahead of time, Michael mentions various other learned astronomers,
most of whom really lived before Gerbert, such as Thebit ben Corat,
Messahalla, Dorotheus, Hermes, Boethius, Averroes, John of Spain,
Isidore, Zahel, and Alcabitius.

[Sidenote: The spirits in the sky, air, and earth.]

Having finally terminated his preface, Michael begins the first book
with a description of the heavens and their motion. Some say that the
planets are moved by angels; others, by winds; but he holds that they
are ruled by divine virtues, spiritual and not corporeal, but of whom
little further can be predicated, since they are imperfectly known
to man and naturally will remain so.[1019] Later he states that they
do not move or rule the celestial bodies naturally but as a service
of obedience to their Creator.[1020] He has already spoken in the
preface of spirits in the northern and southern air, and asserted that
very wise spirits who give responses when conjured dwell in certain
images or constellations among the signs of the zodiac.[1021] In the
_Liber particularis_ he speaks of similar demons in the moon.[1022]
Now he mentions “a legion of spirits damned” in the winds.[1023] In
later passages in the _Liber introductorius_ he gives the names of the
ruling spirits of the planets, Kathariel for Saturn,[1024] and so on,
and a list of the names of spirits of great virtue who, if invoked by
name, will respond readily and perform in marvelous wise all that may
be demanded of them.[1025] And as the planets are said to have seven
rectors who are believed to be the wisest spirits in the sky, so the
seven metals are said to have seven rectors who are believed to be
angels in the earth.[1026] Names of angels also occur in some of his
astrological diagrams.[1027] This education of the reader in details
of astrological necromancy shows that Michael is not to be depended
upon to observe consistently the condemnation of magic and distinction
between astrology and necromancy with which he started out in the

[Sidenote: Occult medicine.]

By affirming that the physician must know the state of the moon and
of the wind and that “there are many passions of the soul under the
sphere of the moon,”[1028] Michael introduces us to the subject of
astrological medicine, a theme to which he returns more than once in
the course of the work.[1029] The practice of flebotomy is illustrated
by a figure showing the influence of the signs of the zodiac upon the
human body.[1030] From the fact that there are fourteen joints in the
fingers of the hand or toes of the foot Michael infers that man’s
span of life should be 140 years, a maximum which sin has reduced to
120.[1031] There are as many medicines as there are diseases and these
consist in the virtues of words, herbs, and stones, as illustrations
of which Michael adduces the sacrament of the altar, the magnet and
iron used by deep-sea sailors, and plasters and powders.[1032] In some
cases, however, neither medicine nor astrology seems to avail, and,
despite his preliminary condemnation of the magic arts, Michael argues
that when the doctor can do nothing for the patient he should advise
him to consult an enchantress or diviner.[1033]

[Sidenote: The seven regions of the air.]

From the seven planets and sphere of the moon Michael turns to the
seven regions of the air, which are respectively the regions of dew,
snow, hail, rain, honey, laudanum, and manna.[1034] This is the
earliest occurrence of this discussion which I have met, and I do not
know from what source, if any, Michael took it. It is essentially
repeated by Thomas of Cantimpré in his _De natura rerum_, where he
gives no credit to Michael Scot but cites Aristotle’s _Meteorology_
in which, however, only dew, snow, rain, and hail are discussed. In
the _History of Animals_[1035] Aristotle further states that honey is
distilled from the air by the action of the stars and that the bees
make only the wax. Michael similarly describes the honey as falling
from the air into flowers and herbs and being collected by the bees;
but he distinguishes two kinds of honey, the natural variety just
described and the artificial honey which results from the bee’s
process of digestion. He also explains that sugar (and molasses?) is
not a liquor which will evaporate like honey and manna, but is made
from the pith of canes.[1036] “Laudanum” is a humor of the air in the
Orient, and manna descends mainly in India with the dew, being found
in Europe only in times of great heat. It is of great virtue, both
medicinal and in satisfying hunger, as in the case of the children of
Israel under Moses.

[Sidenote: Michael’s miscellaneous content.]

We cannot take the time to follow Michael in all his long ramblings
through things in heaven above and earth beneath: sun, tides, springs,
seasons, the difference between _stella_, _aster_, _sidus_, _signum_,
_imago_, and _planeta_, the music of the spheres, the octave in music,
eight parts of speech in grammar, and eight beatitudes in theology,
zones and paradise, galaxy and horizon and zenith, divisions of time,
the four inferior elements and the creatures contained in them,
eclipses of sun and moon, Adam protoplasm and _minor mundus_ as the
letters of his name indicate, the mutable and transitory nature of this
world, the inferno in the earth, and purgatory.

[Sidenote: Further astrological doctrine.]

Sooner or later Michael comes to or returns to astrological doctrine
and technique, lists the qualities of the seven planets and head and
tail of the dragon,[1037] explains the names and some of the effects
of the signs of the zodiac,[1038] gives weather prognostications
from sun and moon,[1039] states the moon’s influence in such matters
as felling trees and slaughtering pigs,[1040] and expounds by text
and figures planetary aspects, exaltations, and conjunctions,[1041]
friendships and enmities.[1042] The planet Mercury signifies in regard
to the rational soul, grammar, arithmetic, and every science.[1043]
The election of hours is considered and a list given of what to do and
not to do in the hour of each planet and that of the moon in each
sign.[1044] There then follows, despite Michael’s animadversions in
the preface against interpreters of dreams and those observing days,
an “Exposition of dreams for each day of the moon,”[1045] nativities
for each day of the week, and a method of divination from the day of
the week on which the New Year falls.[1046] A discussion of the effect
of the moon upon conception is interrupted by a digression on eggs:
how to estimate the laying power of a hen by the color and size of
its crest, the effect of thunder upon eggs, how from eggs to make a
water of great value in alchemy, and how to purify bad wine with the
white of an egg.[1047] Returning again to the moon, we are told that
in the new moon intellects are livelier, scholars study and professors
teach better, and all artisans work harder. Michael Scot used to say
to the emperor Frederick that if he wished clear counsel from a wise
man, he should consult him in a waxing moon and in a human and fiery
or aerial sign of the zodiac.[1048] Michael had spoken earlier of the
planets as judges of the varied questions of litigators,[1049] and
now, although admitting the freedom of the human will, he proceeds
to discuss at considerable length[1050] the art of interrogations
by which the astrologer answers questions put to him. With this the
Bodleian manuscript of the _Liber introductorius_ ends, apparently

[Sidenote: Omission of nativities.]

In the marginal gloss accompanying a Latin translation of the
astrological works of Abraham Avenezra in a manuscript of the fifteenth
century[1052] Michael Scot is quoted a good deal on the subject of
nativities. But the _Liber introductorius_, or at least as much of it
as appears in the Bodleian manuscript, contains little upon this side
of astrology, except the brief nativities for each day of the week.
A passage quoted by Brown[1053] to the effect that the person born
under a certain sign will be an adept in experiments and incantations,
in coercing spirits and working marvels, and will be an alchemist and
nigromancer, appears in the manuscript as a marginal addition rather
than part of the text and so is presumably not by Michael Scot himself.

[Sidenote: Magic for every hour.]

In connection with the subject of elections Michael gives a list of the
prayers, conjurations, and images appropriate for each of the twelve
hours of the day and of the night.[1054] For instance, in the first
hour of the day men pray to God and it is a good time to bind all
tongues by images, characters, and conjurations. In the second hour
angels pray to God and images and other devices to promote love and
concord should be constructed then. In the third hour birds and fishes
pray to God and it is a good time to make images and other contrivances
to catch birds and fish. In the first hour of the night demons hold
colloquy with their lord and the time is favorable for the invocation
of spirits.

[Sidenote: Quaint religious science.]

A more Christian and less magical enumeration of the hours occurs in
the _Liber particularis_.[1055] At morning Christ was arrested on the
Mount of Olives. In the first hour Christ was presented to Ananias and
Caiaphas, the high priests; in the third hour, to Pontius Pilate; in
the sixth hour He was brought back to Herod and taken to Mount Calvary;
in the ninth He was given vinegar and gave up the ghost and the earth
quaked and the veil of the temple was rent in twain; at vespers He was
taken down from the cross. Another specimen of this quaint religious
science is found in the _Liber introductorius_,[1056] where Michael,
writing before the invention of the telescope, speaks of the limits
set to seeing into the heavens except by special grace of God, as in
the case of Katherine and of Stephen, the first martyr, who, when
stoned, saw the heavens opened. A third example occurs in the third
part of the _opus magnum_, or _Phisionomia_, where it is stated that
at birth a male child cries “Oa” and a female child “Oe,” as if to say
respectively, “O Adam (or, O Eve) why have you sinned that I on your
account must suffer infinite misery?”[1057] In the same work Michael
gives original sin as one of two reasons why a baby cannot talk and
walk as soon as it is born.[1058]

[Sidenote: The _Phisionomia_.]

The third part of Scot’s main work, and the only section which has
been printed, is that primarily devoted to the pseudo-science of
physiognomy, which endeavors to determine a man’s character from signs
furnished by the various parts of his body. The _Phisionomia_[1059]
is addressed to the Emperor Frederick II who is exhorted to the
pursuit of learning in general and the science of physiognomy in
particular. This is probably a conscious or unconscious imitation of
the remarks addressed to Alexander by the Pseudo-Aristotle in _The
Secret of Secrets_, of which also a considerable portion is devoted
to physiognomy, and from which Rasis and Michael borrowed a good
deal.[1060] Indeed, the _Phisionomia_ of Michael Scot is also often
entitled _De secretis naturae_ and really only a certain portion of it
is devoted exclusively to physiognomy proper. Its early chapters and
first part deal rather with the process of generation and it is only
with the twenty-third chapter and second part that Michael “reverts to
the doctrine of physiognomy.” Perhaps these chapters on generation had
more to do with the popularity and frequent printing of the work than
did those on physiognomy.

[Sidenote: Influence of the stars on human generation.]

In this discussion of the process of human generation the influence
of the stars receives ample recognition. Michael regards the moment
of conception as of great astrological importance; then according to
the course of the stars and the disposition of the bodies conceiving
the foetus receives “similarly and simultaneously” each and all of
the determining factors in its subsequent nature and history.[1061]
This we may perhaps regard as a medieval approach to the theory of
Mendel. Michael further urges every woman to note the exact moment
of sexual intercourse, when this is to result in generation, and so
make astrological judgment easy.[1062] Yet he states later that God
gives a new and free soul with the new body, just as a father might
give his son a new tablet on which to write whatever he wills of good
or evil.[1063] He notes the correspondence of the menstrual fluid to
the waxing and waning of the moon and that planet’s influence during
the seventh month of the formation of the child in the womb,[1064]
and gives the usual account of the babe’s chances of life or death
according as it is born within seven months, or during the eighth, or
ninth, or tenth month. It is not quite clear if it is because there
are seven planets that Michael affirms that a woman can bear as many
as seven children at once.[1065] He adds that in this case the child
conceived in the middle one of the seven cells of the matrix will be a

[Sidenote: Discussion of divination.]

Scot’s treatise on Physiognomy has considerable to say of other forms
of divination and they here appear in a more favorable light than in
his discussion of varieties of the magic arts in the preface preceding
his _Liber introductorius_. Among signs to tell whether a pregnant
woman will give birth to a boy or a girl he suggests “a chiromantic
experiment”[1067] which consists simply in asking her to hold out her
hand. If she extends the right, the child will be a boy; if the left,
a girl. He also expounds methods of augury at some length, although
again stating that they are in the canons of the church, that is to say
prohibited by canon law. The divisions of space employed in augury are
twelve in number after the fashion of the signs of the zodiac.[1068]
Michael also discusses the significance of sneezes. If anyone sneezes
twice or four times while engaged in some business and immediately
rises and moves about, he will prosper in his undertaking. If one
sneezes twice in the course of the night for three successive nights,
it is a sign of death or some catastrophe in the house. If after making
a contract one sneezes once, it is a sign that the agreement will
be kept inviolate; but if one sneezes thrice, the pact will not be

[Sidenote: Divination from dreams.]

Dreams and their interpretation are also discussed in the
_Physionomia_.[1070] The age of the dreamer, the phase of the moon,
and the stage reached in the process of digestion, all have their
bearing upon interpretation. A dream which occurs before the process of
digestion has started either has no significance or concerns the past.
The dream which comes while the food is being digested has to do with
the present. Only when the process of digestion has been completed do
dreams occur which signify concerning the future. In order to recall a
dream in the morning Michael recommends sleeping upon one’s other side
for the remainder of the night or rubbing the back of the head the next
day. Some dreams signify gain, others loss; some joy, others sadness;
some sickness, others health, others war; some labor, others rest. For
instance, to catch a bird signifies gain, to lose a bird in one’s dream
signifies loss; to mourn in dreams portends joy, to laugh indicates
grief. The rest of his discussion of dreams Scot limits to their
significance in matters of health and physical constitution. He takes
up dreams indicative of predominance of blood, red cholera, phlegm,
and melancholy respectively; of heat, cold, dryness, and humidity; of
excess of humors and of bad humors.

[Sidenote: Works of divination ascribed to Michael Scot.]

While on the subject of divination we may note that a geomancy[1071]
and a chiromancy[1072] have been ascribed to Michael Scot, and also
prophetic verses concerning the fate of Italian cities in the style
of the Sibylline verses and prophecies of Merlin. Brown held that the
evidence for the authenticity of these verses was as convincing as that
for any event in Scot’s life.[1073]

[Sidenote: Medical writings.]

It would not be surprising to find that Michael himself practiced
medicine as well as astrology, in view of the attention given to human
physiology and the process of generation in his _Physiognomy_ and
elsewhere, and the interest in biology which his translation of the
Aristotelian works on animals evidences. A treatise on prognostication
from the urine is ascribed to him[1074] and “Pills of Master Michael
Scot” are mentioned in at least one manuscript,[1075] where they are
declared to be good for all diseases and of virtue indescribable.

[Sidenote: Occult virtues.]

Michael’s general allusion to the occult virtue of words, herbs, and
stones in the _Liber introductorius_ may be supplemented by a few
specific examples of the same from the other two divisions of his
main work. In the _Liber particularis_ he mentions such virtues of
stones as the property of the agate to reveal various signs of demons
and illusions of enchantment, and the power of the jasper to render
its bearer rich, amiable, and eloquent.[1076] In the _Phisionomia_
he suggests that persons who cannot maintain physical health without
frequent sexual intercourse may be able to do so by carrying a jasper
or topaz.[1077] He also states that bathing in the blood of a dog
or of two-year-old infants mixed with hot water “undoubtedly cures
leprosy,”[1078] and that many sorceries can be wrought by use of the
menstrual fluid, _semen_, hairs of the head, blood, and footprints in
dust or mud.[1079]

[Sidenote: Astrology in the _Commentary on the Sphere_.]

Michael Scot’s _Commentary upon the Sphere of Sacrobosco_[1080]
confines itself rather more strictly to astronomical and astrological
topics than did the _Liber introductorius_, but otherwise their
contents are not dissimilar. In the Commentary Michael discusses such
questions as whether the universe is eternal, one or many, and what
form or figure it should have; whether the mover of the sky is moved,
whether the stars are spherical bodies, and whether the zone between
the tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle is temperate and
inhabited. Also whether the elements are four in number, and whether
the heavens include a ninth sphere. One argument against its existence
is that there are no stars in it, on which account some hold that it
would exert no influence upon the earth. But Michael replies that it
has light apart from any starry bodies and by virtue of this light
does exert influence. Other astrological questions which he raises
are whether the signs of the zodiac should be designated by the
names of animals, whether the first heaven is a more potent cause of
generation and corruption than the circle of the zodiac is, whether
celestial bodies have particular properties as terrestrial bodies do,
whether the heavens are animate, whether their motion is natural or
voluntary, whether the motion of the planets is rational, and whether
supercelestial bodies act upon inferiors by virtue of their motion.
In mentioning the departments of life over which the seven planets
rule, Michael cites either theologians or astrologers[1081] to the
effect that Saturn signifies concerning pagans, Jews, and all other
adversaries of the Faith, who are slow to believe just as Saturn is
slow of movement and chilling in effect, while Jupiter is the sign of
true believers and Christians.

[Sidenote: Dionysius the Areopagite and the solar eclipse during
Christ’s passion.]

In commenting upon Sacrobosco’s concluding passage concerning the
miraculous eclipse at the time of Christ’s passion and the remark
attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, “Either the God of nature
suffers or the machine of the universe is dissolved,” Michael explains
that ancient Athens was divided into three parts. One of these was the
shore which was consecrated to Neptune, but in place of the plain and
the mountains, Michael appears to take a leaf out of Plato’s _Republic_
and mentions the region of the warriors, dedicated to Pallas, goddess
of war, and the residential quarter of the philosophers, named the
Areopagus from Ares meaning virtue and _pagus_ meaning villa. According
to Michael the altar to the unknown god was erected by Dionysius the
Areopagite at the time of the darkness and earthquake accompanying
Christ’s passion, and when Paul came and preached the Christ whom he
ignorantly worshiped, Dionysius was converted, and became a missionary
to the Gauls, bishop of Paris, and finally gained a martyr’s crown.

[Sidenote: Alchemy.]

In the _Liber Introductorius_ Michael seemed to associate alchemy
with the magic arts. In his _Commentary on the Sphere_ his attitude
is more favorable. After citing the fourth book of the _Meteorology_
and other passages from Aristotle to the effect that no element can be
corrupted and hence the transmutation striven after by the alchemists
is impossible, Michael explains that the word element may be taken
in two senses. As a part of the universe it is neither generable nor
corruptible, but in so far as an element is mixed with active and
passive qualities, it is both generable and corruptible.[1082]

[Sidenote: Works of alchemy ascribed to Michael Scot.]

Thanks perhaps to this passage the composition or translation of
several works of alchemy is ascribed to Michael Scot in manuscripts
or printed editions. The _Quaestio curiosa de natura Solis et Lunae_,
which was printed as Michael’s in two editions of the _Theatrum
Chemicum_,[1083] was apparently written after his death.[1084] A
Palermo manuscript contains among other alchemical tracts a “Book of
Master Michael Scot in which is contained the mastery.”[1085] In at
least one manuscript Michael Scot is called the translator of the
_Liber luminis luminum_, of which Rasis is elsewhere mentioned as the
original author.[1086] In an Oxford manuscript a _De alchemia_ is
attributed to Michael Scot. It is addressed to “you, great Theophilus,
king of the Saracens”[1087] rather than to the Emperor Frederick, and
speaks of “the noble science” of alchemy as “almost entirely rejected
among the Latins.” Michael Scot mentions himself by name in it rather
too often for us to accept the treatise as his without question, while
the allusions to “Brother Elias” the Franciscan as a fellow-worker in
alchemy are perhaps also open to suspicion.

[Sidenote: Brother Elias and alchemy.]

We find, however, another suggestion of Brother Elias’s interest in
alchemy and association therein with Michael Scot in the fact that in
the same manuscript containing the translation of the _Liber luminis
luminum_ ascribed to Michael occurs another _Liber lumen luminum_ which
Brother Elias, General of the Friars Minor, edited in Latin for the
Emperor Frederick.[1088] A brother Cyprian translated it from Arabic
into Latin for him. In view of the later interest of another Franciscan
friar, Roger Bacon, in alchemy and the supposition which some have
entertained that he was persecuted by his Order because of his
experimental studies, this reputation of Brother Elias as an alchemist
is interesting to note. One of St. Francis’s earliest followers, he
succeeded him in 1226 as General of the Order. Deposed by the pope in
1230 on the charge of promoting schism in the Order, he was re-elected
in 1236 and was again deposed by the pope in 1239, after which he
joined the imperial party and was excommunicated from 1244 until just
before his death in 1253.[1089] Brown suggested that his alchemical
activities were alluded to by the pope on the occasion of his first
deposition in the words “_mutari color optimus auri ex quo caput erat
compactum_.”[1090] But if Elias was an alchemist, no open objection to
this appears to have been made either by the pope or his Order. Indeed,
many of the alchemists in Italy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
were clergy and even friars.[1091]

[Sidenote: _Liber luminis luminum_ and _De alchemia_.]

Brown has already discussed the contents of the _Liber luminis luminum_
and _De alchemia_ (or, _alchimia_)[1092] but erroneously and from not
quite the same standpoint as ours. He incorrectly interprets “the
secrets of nature” which the writer says he has investigated as the
title of a book which has formed his chief source.[1093] Brown also
states that one of several features which distinguishes the _De
alchemia_ from the _Liber luminis_ “is an early passage which refers
to the correspondence between the metals and the planets.”[1094] But
there is a similar passage connecting seven metals with the seven
planets in the opening paragraph of his own printed text of the _Liber
luminis luminum_.[1095] The latter treatise, brief as it is, divides
into five parts dealing with salts, alums, vitriols, spirits, and the
preparation of alums, and the employment of these in transmutation. The
_De alchemia_ is less orderly in arrangement and seems largely a brief
collection of particular recipes for transmutation.

[Sidenote: Their further characteristics.]

Both works emphasize the secret character of alchemy. The _De alchemia_
holds forth concerning the great secret of Hermes and Ptolemy, and
tells how most men’s eyes are blinded, and to how few the truth of the
art is revealed. The _Liber luminis luminum_ narrates that “when the
great philosopher was dying he said to his son, ‘O my son, hold thy
secret in thy heart, nor tell it to anyone, nor to thy son, unless
when thou canst retain it no longer.’ Wise philosophers have yearned
with yearning to know the truth of this salt. But few have known it
and those who have known it have not told in their books the truth
concerning it as they saw it.”[1096] Both works also are largely
experimental in form and in the _De alchemia_ we are assured more than
once that “I, Michael Scot, have experienced this many times.”[1097]
The books of the ancients and past philosophers are cited both in
general and by name, but a black vitriol from France called French
earth[1098] and a gum found in Calabria and at Montpellier[1099] are
mentioned as well as herbs and minerals from India and Alexandria, and
we also hear of the experiments of brother Elias, certain Saracens who
seem of comparatively recent date, and of the operation at Catania
or Cortona by master Jacob the Jew which “I afterwards proved many
times.”[1100] The _Liber luminis luminum_ often speaks of “the great
virtue” of this or that, and both treatises make much use of animal
substances such as “dust of moles,” the urine of the _taxo_ or of a
boy, the blood of a ruddy man or of an owl or frog. Five toads are
shut up in a vessel and made to drink the juices of various herbs with
vinegar as the first step in the preparation of a marvelous powder for
purposes of transmutation.[1101]


[964] James Wood Brown, _An inquiry into the life and legend of Michael
Scot_, Edinburgh, 1897. While this book has been sharply criticized
(for instance, by H. Niese in HZ, CVIII (1912), p. 497) and has its
failings, such as an unsatisfactory method of presenting its citations
and authorities, it gives, obscured by much verbiage intended to make
the book interesting and popular and much fanciful speculation as to
what may have been, a more reliable account of Michael’s life and a
fuller bibliography of his writings than had existed previously. But it
must be used with caution.

_Liber introductorius_: extant only in MSS, of which some are:

Bodleian 266, 15th century, 218 fols. “Quicumque vult esse bonus
astrologus ... / ... finitur tractatus de notitia pronosticorum.” This
is the MS which I have used.

CLM 10268, 14th century, 146 fols. Described by F. Boll (1903), p. 439.
I tried to inspect this MS when I was in Munich in 1912 but it had been
loaned out of the library at that time.

Brown further mentions BN nouv. acq. 1401 and an Escorial MS of the
14th century which I presume is the same as Escorial F-III-8, 14th
century, fols. 1-126, “Incipit prohemium libri introductorii quem
edidit Michael Scotus,” etc.

The following are perhaps extracts from the _Liber Introductorius_:

BN 14070, 13th-14th-15th century, fol. 112-, Mich. Scoti de notitia
conjunctionis mundi terrestris cum celesti; fol. 115-, Eiusdem de
presagiis stellarum.

Vienna 3124, 15th century, fols. 206-11, “Capitulum de hiis quae
generaliter significantur in partibus duodecim celi sive domibus.”

Vatican 4087, fol. 38r, “Explicit liber quem edidit micael scotus de
signis et ymaginibus celi.”

See also MSS mentioned by Brown at p. 27, note 2.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Liber particularis_, or _Astronomia_; also extant only in MSS.

Canon. Misc. 555, early 14th century, fols. 1-59. “Cum ars astronomie
sit grandis sermonibus philosophorum....” This is the MS I have used;
others are:

Escorial E-III-15, 14th century, fols. 41-51, Michaelis Scoti ars
astronomiae ad Federicum imperatorem II.

CLM 10663, 18th century, 261 fols., Michael Scot, Astronomia.

At Milan, Ambros. L. 92.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Phisionomia_: eighteen editions are said to have appeared between 1477
and 1660. I have used the following text:

Michael Scot, _De secretis naturae_, Amsterdam, 1740, where it follows
at pp. 204-328 the _De secretis mulierum_ and other treatises ascribed
to Albertus Magnus.

It occurs at fols. 59-88 of Canon. Misc. 555, immediately after the
_Liber particularis_, and is found in other MSS.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Commentary on The Sphere of Sacrobosco._

_Eximii atque excellentissimi physicorum motuum cursusque siderei
indagatoris Michaelis Scoti super auctorem sperae cum questionibus
diligenter emendatis incipit expositio confecta Illustrissimi
Imperatoris Dn̄i D. Fedrici precibus_, Bologna, 1495. I have also used
an edition of 1518, and there are others.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Liber lumen luminum._

Riccardian 119, fols. 35v-37r, “Incipit liber luminis luminum
translatus a magistro michahele scoto philosopho.”

Printed by Brown (1897), Appendix III, pp. 240-68.

I presume it is the same as the _Lumen luminum_ ascribed to Rasis in
BN 6517 and 7156--see Berthelot (1893), I, 68--but I have not compared

In the same Riccard. 119 at fol. 166r is a Liber lumen luminum
ascribed to Brother Elias, general of the Franciscans. “Incipit liber
alchimicalis quem frater helya edidit apud fredericum Imperatorem.
Liber lumen luminum translatus de sarraceno ac arabico in latinum
a fratre cypriano ac compositus in latinum a generali fratrum
minorum super alchimicis. Incipit liber qui lumen luminum dicitur ex
libris medicorum et experimentis et philosophorum et disciplinarum

       *       *       *       *       *

_De alchimia_ (or, _alchemia_)

Corpus Christi 125, fols. 97v-100v, Michaelis Scoti ad Theophilum
Saracenorum regem “de alkemia.” “Explicit tractatus magistri michaelis
Scoti de alke.”

The above-mentioned books and manuscripts are those especially
discussed and utilized in the present chapter. The following may be
noted, since they are omitted by Brown, although they have little to do
with our investigation:

_Mensa philosophica._ Of this brief work ascribed to Michael Scot
several incunabula exist in the library of the British Museum.

       *       *       *       *       *

Amplon. Folio 179, 14th century, fols. 98-99, “Liber translative
theologie de decem kathegoriis.” The attribution of this to Michael
Scot might be taken to support the tradition that he was a doctor of
theology at Paris.

[965] The poem is printed in _Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte_,
XVIII (1878), p. 486. Yet Cantor II (1913), p. 7, has Michael outlive
Frederick and transfer his residence to the court of Edward I of

[966] Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 44v, “Quadam vice me michaelem scotum sibi
fidelem inter ceteros astrologos domestice advocavit.”

[967] That they are sections of one work is made clear from his
statement at the end of the long preface to all three: Bodleian 266,
fol. 25v; Boll (1903), p. 439, quotes the same passage from CLM 10268.

[968] “Scolares novitii.”

[969] The MSS say “Innocent IV,” but Michael had died before his

[970] Brown (1897), chapter II. Criticized by H. Niese in _Historische
Zeitschrift_, vol. 108 (1912), p. 497, note 3.

[971] Bologna University Library 693, 16th century, “Michaelis Scoti
astronomi Salernitani liber de animalibus. Incipit liber primus
de animalibus Avicenne rubrica. Frederice domine mundi Romanorum
Imperator, suscipe devote hunc laborem Michaelis Scoti.”

[972] Laurentian P. lxxxix, sup. cod. 38, 15th century, p. 409; printed
in Brown (1897), pp. 231-4. Concerning Philip see also Brown, pp.
19, 36-7. The important passage in the MS is, “Explicit nicromantiae
experimentum illustrissimi doctoris Domini Magistri Michaelis Scoti,
qui summus inter alios nominatur Magister, qui fuit Scotus, et servus
praeclarissimo Domino Philipo Regis Ceciliae coronato; quod destinavit
sibi dum esset aegrotus in civitate Cordubae, etc. Finis.” Brown, p.
19, translates the last clause, “which experiment he (i. e., Michael)
contrived when he lay sick in the city of Cordova,” and so concludes
that Scot visited that city; but I should translate it, “which he
(Michael) sent to him (Philip) while he (Philip) lay sick in the city
of Cordova.” Otherwise why is Philip mentioned at all?

[973] Brown, p. 104, citing Jourdain, _Recherches_, p. 133, who called
attention to two Paris MSS, Anciens fonds 7399 and Fonds de Sorbonne
1820, in one of which the MS is dated 1217, while the other gives the
year as 1255 which is the exactly corresponding year of the Spanish
era. Arsenal 1035, 14th century, fol. 112, a MS not noted by Jourdain
or Brown, states the year as 1207 A. D., but this is evidently a
mistake for 1217, since it gives the same day of the week and month as
the other MSS and August 18th fell on Friday in 1217, but not in 1207.
BN 16654, 13th century, fol. 33, gives the date as 1217.

[974] P. 55, arguing from a Vatican MS which is described at pp. 235-7.

[975] “Glosa magistri al. Explicit anno domini mccx.”

[976] Gonville and Caius 109, fols. 102v-103r, written in a different
hand from the text of the _History of Animals_, “Et iuro ego michael
scotus qui dedi hunc librum latinitati quod in anno MCCXXI, xii kal.
novembr. die mercurii....”

[977] Perhaps the year is correct, but “xii kal.” should be “xiii kal.”

[978] HL XX, 47; Brown (1897), p. 14; both citing Du Boulay, _Hist.
univ. Paris._, 1656-1675.

[979] See Denifle et Chatelain, _Chartularium Universitatis
Parisiensis_, 1889, I, 104, for a letter of Honorius III of January 16,
1224, asking Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, to secure a
benefice for Michael Scot whom he calls “singularly gifted in science
among men of learning”: and Theiner, _Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum et
Scotorum_, Rome, 1864, p. 23, for a letter of Honorius III of June in
the same year, stating that Michael has declined the archbishopric of
Cashel and appointing another man. Brown has incorrectly dated both
letters in 1223.

[980] Denifle and Chatelain, I, 110.

[981] For the date and MSS see Boncompagni, _Intorno ad alcune opere di
Leonardo Pisano_, Rome, 1854, pp. 2 and 129-30.

[982] Bridges (1897) I, 55; in Jebb’s edition, pp. 35-6.

[983] _Rigordus de Gestis Philippi II_; quoted in the Leo XIII edition
of Aquinas, Rome, 1882, vol. I, p. cclix, “legi Parisiis coepisse
libellos quosdam aristotelis, qui docebant metaphysicum, de novo
Constantinopoli delatos et a graeco in latinum translatos.”

[984] P. Duhem, “Du temps où la Scolastique latine a connu la physique
d’Aristote,” in _Revue de philosophie_, August, 1909, pp. 163-78,
argues that the _Physics_ was known to Latins in the twelfth century.

[985] Petrus de Vineis III, ep. lxvii; Latin cited in Dissertation 23
in vol. I of the Rome, 1882, edition of the works of Aquinas. Frederick
II is not even mentioned in Grabmann’s dissertation on the translation
of Aristotle in the thirteenth century. In the preface to his _De arte
venandi cum avibus_ Frederick refuses to follow Aristotle who, he says,
had little or no practice in falconry: Haskins, EHR XXXVI (1921) 343-4.

[986] The letter of Manfred accompanied his gift to the University of
Paris of copies of the translations made for him. See _Chartularium
Universitatis Parisiensis_, I, 435-6.

[987] Renan, _Averroès et Averroïsme_, p. 188.

[988] Grabmann (1916), pp. 143-4, 175-6, 186-7, 198.

[989] BN 17155, 13th century, fol. 225-.

[990] Brown, 145.

[991] Brown, 119, Brewer (1859), p. 91.

[992] _Meteor._ III, iv. 26 (Borgnet, IV, 697).

[993] See Jourdain, _Recherches_, etc., and more recently H. Stadler,
“Irrtümer des Albertus Magnus bei Benutzung des Aristoteles,” in
_Archiv f. d. Gesch. d. Naturwissenschaften u. d. Technik_, VI (1913)

[994] De Renzi, I, 292.

[995] Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 6.

[996] _Sphere_ (1518), p. 106.

[997] _Ibid._, p. 107.

[998] Gonville and Caius 109, fol. 1O2v-1O3r.

[999] C. H. Haskins, “The ‘De Arte Venandi cum Avibus’ of the Emperor
Frederick II,” EHR XXXVI (1921) 334-55.

[1000] Bodleian 266, fols. 1r-v. Future citations, unless otherwise
specified, will be to this MS.

[1001] It extends from fol. 2 to fol. 19.

[1002] fol. 4r.

[1003] fol. 10r.

[1004] fols. 11v-12r.

[1005] fol. 17v.

[1006] fol. 3r-v.

[1007] fols. 2 and 20v.

[1008] fols. 21v-22r.

[1009] fol. 22r.

[1010] fol. 22v.

[1011] In another passage at fol. 23r which speaks of a _magus_ as
inspecting entrails of animals I take it that the word is a slip of the
copyist for _haruspex_.

[1012] fol. 175r.

[1013] fol. 22v.

[1014] Printed by Brown (1897), pp. 231-4.

[1015] _Ibid._, p. 18.

[1016] At least in the MS which I have used; Bodleian 266, fols.

[1017] What purported to be this work is listed in the _Speculum
astronomiae_ of Albertus Magnus, and Haskins, “Nimrod the Astronomer,”
_Romanic Review_, V. (1914), 203-12, has called attention to the
following MSS: S. Marco VIII, 22; Vatic. Pal. Lat. 1417; and an
extract in Ashmole 191. Haskins notes various mentions of Nimrod as an
astronomer in medieval authors, but not the above passage from Michael
Scot. Although Latin writers make Ioathon or Ionaton (and various other
spellings) the disciple of Nimrod, in Syrian writers Ionitus is the
fourth son of Noah and himself the discoverer of astronomy and teacher
of Nimrod (Haskins, _op. cit._ 210-11).

[1018] The word _Explicit_ is written across the knees of a figure of
the giant Athalax or Caclon who supports the heavens on his head at
fol. 25r, col. 1, but the passage concerning “Gilbertus” follows and
the proper Explicit of the preface does not occur until fol. 25v, col.
1. See Haskins, _op. cit._ p. 207 for pictures in the MSS of Atlas and
Nimrod side by side, the one standing on the Pyrenees and supporting
the starry firmament; the other on the mount of the Amorites bearing
the starless heavens.

[1019] fol. 28r-v; also Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 22r.

[1020] fol. 68v.

[1021] fol. 21v.

[1022] Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 17v.

[1023] fol. 29v.

[1024] fols. 150v-158r.

[1025] fol. 172.

[1026] fol. 145v.

[1027] fol. 128v.

[1028] fols. 30r, 31r.

[1029] fol. 174r.

[1030] fol. 144v.

[1031] fol. 173v.

[1032] fol. 173r, “Nam tot sunt medicine quot sunt infirmitates et hae
constant in tribus videlicet in verbis, herbis, et lapidibus, virtutes
quorum quotidie videmus ut in hostia sacrata super altare, in magnete
et ferro navigantes in alto mari, et in emplastris, pulveribus, et

[1033] fol. 175v.

[1034] fols. 32v-35r.

[1035] _Hist. Animal._ V, xix, 4.

[1036] fol. 35r, “de zuccaro et zaccara. Saccarum et zathara non sunt
liquores vaporabiles ut mel et manna sed sit de medula cannarum.”

[1037] fols. 44r et seq.; fols. 150-8.

[1038] fol. 75r et seq.; fols. 108-114.

[1039] fols. 117-8.

[1040] fol. 89.

[1041] fol. 124 et seq.; fols. 132-5.

[1042] fols. 145v-147v.

[1043] fol. 45r.

[1044] fols. 162v-163.

[1045] fol. 164v.

[1046] fol. 165.

[1047] fol. 176r-v.

[1048] fol. 177v.

[1049] fol. 28r.

[1050] fols. 178-218.

[1051] As Madan’s description of the MS says, “The first book contains
four _distinctiones_, of which the second ends on fol. 178, but it is
difficult to state whether the MS contains anything beyond the first
portion of the third _distinctio_ of this first book, owing to the
absence of decisive rubrics.”

F. Boll (1903) states that the fourth _distinctio_ is also missing in
CLM 10268.

[1052] BN 7438, 15th century.

[1053] In a footnote at page 185, from Bodl. 266, fol. 113.

[1054] fol. 162r.

[1055] Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 4.

[1056] Bodleian 266, fol. 47r.

[1057] _Phisionomia_ (1740) cap. xi, p. 235.

[1058] _Ibid._, cap. ix, p. 229.

[1059] Or _Phisonomia_ as it is often spelled in the medieval texts

[1060] Brown (1897), 32 and 37.

[1061] Edition of 1740, p. 210, “Et secundum cursum corporum superiorum
sicut dispositionem corporum concipientium foetus recipit similiter
et semel omnia et singula quae postea discernunt ordinem temporum et

[1062] Cap. 7 (1740), p. 226.

[1063] Cap. 8 (1740), p. 228.

[1064] Cap. 3 (1740), p. 218; cap. 10, p. 230.

[1065] Cap. 2 (1740), p. 213.

[1066] Cap. 7 (1740), p. 227.

[1067] Cap. 18 (1740), p. 248, “In chiromantia est illud

[1068] _De notitia auguriorum_, cap. 57 (1740), p. 285.

[1069] Cap. 58 (1740), pp. 288, 289, 290.

[1070] Caps. 46-56 (1740), p. 280, _et seq._

[1071] CLM 489, 16th century.

[1072] _Chiromantica Scientia, quarto minori sine notis typographicis,
foliis 28 constat impressis. “Ex divina philosophorum academia
secundum nature vires ad extra chyromantitio diligentissime collectum.
Exordium.” Cl. Denis, qui alias editiones huius operis adfert,
Michaelum Scotum auctorem eiusdem censeri tradit._

[1073] Brown (1897), 163 _et seq._

[1074] Vatican, Regina di Svezia, 1159, fol. 149, “Finis urinarum
Magistri Michaelis Scoti.” To the two MSS listed by Brown, p. 153, note
6, containing an Italian translation, may be added Perugia 316, 15th
century, fols. 91-106, “Qui chomenza el tractato delle orine secondo
come mete maistro Michelle sthato strollogo del re Ferigo ai nostri

[1075] Addit. 24068, 13th century, fol. 97v.

[1076] Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 50r-v.

[1077] (1740), p. 222.

[1078] _Phisionomia_, cap. 14 (1740), p. 241.

[1079] _Ibid._, cap. 10, p. 233.

[1080] If the ascription of this _Commentary_ to Michael is correct,
probably either he wrote it toward the end of his life or Sacrobosco
composed the _Sphere_ fairly early in his career, since he appears
to have outlived Michael and to have composed his _Computus
ecclesiasticus_ or _De anni ratione_ in 1244: see Duhem III (1915),
p. 240. The lines quoted in DNB “John Holywood or Halifax” as on his
tomb in the cloister of the Mathurins and as having reference to the
date of his death are really the verses at the close of his _Computus

“_M Christi bis C quarto deno quater anno_ _De Sacro Bosco discrevit
tempora ramus_ _Gratia cui dederat nomen divina Johannes_,” etc.

Cantor II (1913), p. 87, however, speaks of two different tomb
inscriptions given by Vossius and Kästner but says that they agree on
1256 as the date of Sacrobosco’s death. The first line above quoted is
sometimes interpreted as giving the date 1256 rather than 1244.

[1081] In the _editio princeps_ of 1495 the marginal heading is, “_Quid
de planetis sentiunt theologi,”_ but in the text we read “_thrologi_,”
which is possibly derived from “_asthrologi_” by a dropping off of the
first syllable.

[1082] Edition of 1495, fol. b-ii, verso.

[1083] Strasburg, 1622 and 1659.

[1084] And is not a chapter from the _Liber Introductorius_; see Brown,

[1085] _Liber Magistri Michaelis Scotti in quo continetur Magisterium_,
No. 44 in a MS belonging to the Speciale family. I have not seen the
MS. It is described briefly by Brown, 78-80; see further S. A. Carini,
_Sulle Scienze Occulte nel Medio Evo_, Palermo, 1872.

[1086] See bibliographical note at the beginning of this chapter.

[1087] This expression occurs in the course of the text itself--Corpus
Christi 125, fol. 97r--in addition to the words scratched in the upper
margin at the beginning by another hand, “_Michael Scotus Theophilo
Regi Saracenorum_.” The conclusion of the treatise is in a 14th century
hand, the remainder in a 15th century hand.

[1088] See bibliographical note at opening of this chapter.

[1089] Brown, p. 91, citing Wadding, I, 109.

[1090] Brown, p. 91, note 2.

[1091] Berthelot (1893) II, 74 and 77; Lippmann (1919) 481. I doubt if
there is much ground for their further assertion that such clerics fell
easily under suspicion of heresy and hence wrote in ciphers like Roger
Bacon’s for gunpowder. At p. 688 I have refuted the notion that Bacon
employed a cipher to conceal the recipe for gunpowder.

[1092] In his fourth chapter, “The Alchemical Studies of Michael Scot.”

[1093] If the title of any book were meant, it would rather be
Michael’s own _De secretis naturae_, since he not only says,
“Cum rimarer et inquirerem secreta naturae ex libris antiquorum
philosophorum....,” but also, “Quedam extraxi et ea secretis nature

[1094] P. 92.

[1095] P. 240, “Et notum est quod sicut 7 sunt metalla ita 7 sunt
planete et quodlibet metallum habet suum planetam,” etc.

[1096] For Latin text see Brown, p. 248. The same passage occurs in
another alchemical treatise, _Liber Dedali philosophi_, which Brown
printed on opposite pages to the text of the _Liber luminis luminum_.

[1097] Corpus Christi 125, fol. 99v, “et ego multotiens sum expertus,”
fol. 100r, “Et ego michael scotus multotiens sum expertus,” etc.

[1098] Brown, p. 262, “Vitriolum nigrum apportatur de Francia et
idcirco dicitur terra francigena. Cum isto mulieres vulvam constringunt
ut virgines appareant. Non est autem magne utilitatis in ista arte.”

[1099] Corpus Christi 125, fol. 99r.

[1100] _Ibid._, fol. 100r, “Et ego vidi istam operationem scilicet apud
cartanam a magistro jacobo iudeo et ego postea multotiens probavi....”

[1101] Brown, p. 252, for Latin text.



 The man and his writings--His respect for science--And
 for experimentation--Influenced by Christian
 doctrine--Importance of his account of magic--Its
 main points summarized--Demons and magic--Magic and
 idolatry--Magic illusions--Natural magic--Is not concerned
 with demons--Some instances of natural magic--“The
 sense of nature”--Magic’s too extreme pretensions--Wax
 images--Factitious gods--Characters and figures--Power of
 words denied--Use of divine names--Christian magic--Magic
 of sex and generation--William’s contribution to
 the bibliography of magic--Plan of the rest of this
 chapter--Theory of spiritual substances--Spirits in
 the heavens--Will hell be big enough?--Astrological
 necromancy--False accounts of fallen angels--Different kinds
 of spirits--Limited demon control of nature--Can demons be
 imprisoned or enter bodies?--Susceptibility of demons to
 the four elements and to natural objects--Stock examples
 of natural marvels--The hazel rod story--Occult virtues of
 herbs and animals--Virtues of gems--A medley of marvelous
 virtues--Divination not an art but revelation--Divination
 by inspection of lucid surfaces--Other instances of
 divination, ancient and modern--His treatment of
 astrology--The philosophers on the nature of the heavens
 and stars--William’s own opinion and attitude--Objection
 to stars as cause of evil--Virtues of the stars--Extent of
 their influence upon nature and man--Against nativities,
 interrogations, and images--Astrology and religion and
 history--Comets and the star of Bethlehem.

[Sidenote: The man and his writings.]

We now come upon a Christian theologian whose works present an
unexpectedly detailed picture of the magic and superstition of the
time.[1102] He is well acquainted with both the occult literature
and the natural philosophy of the day, and has much to say of
magic, demons, occult virtue, divination and astrology. Finally,
he also gives considerable information concerning what we may call
the school of natural magic and of experiment. This theologian is
William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris from 1228 to his death in 1249,
and previously a canon of that city and a master of theology in its
university. Judging from his age when he received this degree Valois
estimates that he was born about 1180. He was made a bishop at Rome by
the pope, where he had come as a simple deacon to pursue his appeal in
the recent disputed election.[1103] He granted the Dominicans their
first chair of theology at Paris during a quarrel of the university in
1228 with Queen Blanche of Castile and the dispersion of the faculties
to Angers and Rheims.[1104] He took a prominent part in the Parisian
attack upon the Talmud and was perhaps the first Christian doctor of
the Latin west to display an intimate acquaintance with the works
attributed to Hermes Trismegistus.[1105] These facts suggest the extent
of his reading in occult lore. We shall consider his views as expressed
in his various writings, “On Sins and Vices,” “Of Laws” (or Religions),
in the frequent medieval use of the word, _lex_, “Of Morals,” “Of
Faith,” but especially in his voluminous work on “The Universe” which
deals more with the world of nature than do his other theological
treatises. Indeed, in the sixteenth century edition of his works he is
called “a most perfect mathematician” and “a distinguished philosopher”
as well as “a most eminent theologian.”

[Sidenote: His respect for science.]

William at any rate has respect for natural philosophy and favors
scientific investigation of nature. Like his namesake of Conches in
the preceding century he has no sympathy with those who, when they
are ignorant of the causes of natural phenomena and have no idea how
to investigate them, have recourse to the Creator’s omnipotent virtue
and call everything of this sort a miracle, or evade the necessity of
any natural explanation by affirming that God’s will is the sole cause
of it. This seems to William an intolerable error, in the first place
because they have thus only one answer for all questions, and secondly
because they are satisfied with the most remote cause instead of the
most immediate one. There is no excuse for thus neglecting so many
varied and noble sciences.[1106]

In another passage William apologizes to the person to whom the _De
universo_ is addressed for the summary and inadequate discussion of
the stars in which he has just been indulging.[1107] He knows that
certitude in this subject calls for a most thorough investigation and
requires a separate treatise. Moreover, his remarks have been in the
nature of a digression and have little direct bearing on the question
under discussion. But he has introduced them in order that his reader
might see something of the depth and truth of philosophical discussion
and not think that it can be despised as some fools do, who will accept
nothing unless it is armed with proofs and adorned with flowers of
rhetoric and who still more insanely regard as erroneous whatever they
do not understand.

[Sidenote: And for experimentation.]

Thus we see the scientific standards of William of Conches in the
twelfth century still influential and probably more universally
prevalent in the thirteenth. Like his namesake of Conches again,
William of Auvergne states that our common fire is not the pure
element, since it is largely made up of burning coal or wood or other
consumed objects.[1108] He also states that “innumerable experiences”
have proven that moles do not live on earth but hunt worms in
it.[1109] William is aware that many sailors and navigators have found
by experience that certain seas open into others, and as another
indication that all seas are really only one connected sea, he adduces
hidden subterranean channels, and mentions the report that Sicily is
supported on four or five mountains as if by so many columns. Such
are some illustrations of the bits of scientific information and the
trust in natural experiment to be found in William’s work. It is indeed
surprising the number of times he alludes to “experimenters” and to
“books of experiments.”

[Sidenote: Influenced by Christian doctrine.]

On the other hand William, of course, maintains such doctrines as
that of creation against the Peripatetic theory of the eternity of
the universe. He also does not confuse the world soul with the Holy
Spirit as William of Conches and Theodoric of Chartres had done.[1110]
More important than these particular points is the general hypothesis
running through and underlying much of William’s thought that the
Creator can interfere again in the course of nature at any time and
in any way He wills.[1111] The atmosphere of the miraculous and the
spiritual is almost constantly felt in William’s account of the
universe. To a certain extent, however, he evades the difficulties
between science and religion by holding that one thing is true in
philosophy and quite another in theology. Thus he affirms that one
who says that the stars and lights of the sky do not receive addition
or improvement, speaks the truth if the matter is regarded from the
standpoint of natural science, for nature cannot add anything to their
natural perfection. “Yet you ought to know that learned Christian
doctors teach ... and the prophets seem to say expressly that they will
undergo improvement.”[1112] It is, then, as we said to begin with, the
account of magic, demons, occult virtue, divination, astrology and
experimental science, of a theologian not ignorant of nor unsympathetic
with science that we have now to consider.

[Sidenote: Importance of his account of magic.]

William’s account of magic is a remarkable and illuminating one. Most
of it occurs in the closing chapters of the _De universo_. William
himself there states that nothing has come down from previous writers
on the things of which he has just been speaking.[1113] He admits
that his remarks are incomplete but he has at least made a beginning
which will prove welcome to the reader. Probably, however, he is
indebted to previous Christian writers; at any rate we recognize some
of his statements as familiar. But he also has a wide acquaintance
with the literature of magic itself--in his youth he examined the
books of judicial astronomy and the books of the magicians and
sorcerers[1114]--and he combines the results of his reading in a sane
manner. We feel that his view is both comprehensive, including all
the essential factors, and marked by insight into the heart of the
situation. For his time at least he sees remarkably clearly what magic
is, what it cannot do, and how it is related to the science of that age.

[Sidenote: Its main points summarized.]

The chief characteristics of magic as it is depicted by William may
first be briefly summarized, and then illustrated in more detail. He
constantly assumes that its great aim is to work marvels. He holds that
often the ends are sought by the help of demons and methods which are
idolatrous. Evil ends are often sought by magicians. On the other hand
the apparent marvels are often worked by mere human sleight-of-hand
or other tricks and deceptions of the magicians themselves. But the
marvel may be neither human deceit nor the work of an evil spirit. It
may be produced by the wonderful occult virtues resident in certain
objects of nature. To marvels wrought in this manner William applies
the name “natural magic,” and has no doubt of its truth. But he denies
the validity of many methods and devices in which magicians trust,
and contends that marvels cannot be so worked unless demons are
responsible. William furthermore constantly cites books of experiments
and narrates the feats of “experimenters” in discussing magic, and he
often implies a close connection of it with astronomy or astrology.
Here again as in the case of natural magic we see an intimate
connection between the development of magic and of natural science.
Finally, these various characteristics and varieties of magic are not
always kept distinct by William, but often overlap or join. The demons
avail themselves of the forces of nature in working their marvels and
their marvels too are often only passing illusions and empty shams. The
experimenters and operators of natural magic also deal in momentary
effects and deceptive appearances as well as in more solid results.

[Sidenote: Demons and magic.]

William holds then that much of magic is performed by the aid of demons
and involves the worship of them or other forms of idolatry.[1115] One
reason why magic feats are so seldom performed in Christian lands and
William’s own time is that the power of the evil spirits has been so
repressed by Christianity. But the books of the magicians and of the
sorcerers assume the existence of armies of spirits in the sky.[1116]
In the necromantic operation called “The Major Circle” four kings
of demons from the four quarters of the earth appear with numerous
attendants according to the statements of those who are skilled
in works of this sort.[1117] William has also read in the books of
experiments that water can be made to appear where there really is none
by use of a bow of a particular kind of wood, an arrow of another kind
of wood, and a bow-string made of a particular sort of cord.[1118] As
far as an arrow is shot from this bow so far one is supposed to behold
an expanse of water. But William does not believe that the bow and
arrow possess any such virtues, and hence concludes that the mirage is
an illusion produced by the demons and that the ceremony performed by
the magician is a service to the evil spirits. Another writer in his
book of necromancy bids one to take as an oblation such and such a wood
or stone or liquor on such a day at such an hour. Here too, perhaps
because of what he regards as superstitious observance of times and
seasons, William holds that the word “oblation” covers some diabolical
servitude or cult, which has been concealed by the writers of such
experiments. He also states that sorcerers and idolaters often go off
into deserts to have dealings with the demons who dwell there.[1119] He
cites “a certain magician in his book on magic arts” who says that in
order to philosophize he went to places destitute of any inhabitant and
there lived for thirty years with those who dwelt in light and learned
from them what he has written in his book.

[Sidenote: Magic and idolatry.]

In his treatise _De legibus_ William, like Maimonides, endeavors to
explain some of the questionable provisions and prohibitions in the
Mosaic law as measures to guard against idolatry and magic.[1120]
Under the head of idolatry he groups not only the worship of idols
proper and of demons, but also superstitious observance of the stars,
the elements, images, figures, words and names, times and seasons,
beginnings of actions and finding objects.[1121] In another passage
he adds the observance of dreams, auguries, constellations, sneezes,
meetings, days and hours, figures, marks, characters and images.[1122]
Also incantation is not without idolatry. Thus many features of the
magic arts are condemned by him.

[Sidenote: Magic illusions.]

We come next to those magic works which are “mockeries of men or
of demons.”[1123] First there are those transpositions which are
accomplished by agility and hability of the hands and are popularly
called _tractationes_ or _traiectationes_. They are a source of great
wonderment until men learn how they are done. A second variety are
mere apparitions which have no truth. Under this head fall certain
magic candles. One made of wax and sulphurated snakeskin, burned in a
dark place filled with sticks or rushes makes the house seem full of
writhing serpents. William’s explanation of this is that the powdered
snakeskin as it burns makes the rushes appear similar in color to
serpents, while the flickering of the flame gives the illusion that
they are moving. Possibly, however, this may be a defective recipe
for some firework like the modern “snake’s nest.” William is more
sceptical whether in the light of a candle made of wax and the tears
or _semen_ of an ass men would look like donkeys. He doubts whether
wet tears would mix with wax or burn if they did, and whether these
internal fluids possess any of the substance, figure, and color of an
ass’s external appearance. He concedes nevertheless that the _semen_
has great virtue and that the sight is of all senses the most easily
deceived. At any rate “experimenters” (_experimentatores_) have said
things of this sort, and you may read in the books of experiments a
trick by which anyone’s hand is made to appear an ass’s foot, so that
he blushes to draw it from his bosom.[1124]

The work of necromancy called “The Major Circle” is also in the nature
of a delusive appearance. The four demon kings from the four quarters
of the earth seem to be accompanied by vast hosts of phantom horsemen,
jugglers, and musicians, but no prints of horses’ hoofs are visible
afterwards. Moreover, if real horsemen appeared, they would be seen by
everyone, not merely by those within the magic circle. Another common
apparition, produced by “these sorcerers and deceivers” by means of
sacrifices and other evil observances which William will not reveal, is
a wonderful castle with gates, towers, walls, and citadel all complete.
But it is seen only during the magic operation and when it vanishes
leaves no trace behind. William compares such illusions to some
fantastic dream which leaves behind nothing but horror on the faces of
the participants. He argues that if corporeal things outside us make
the strong impression on our senses that they do, it is no wonder if
spiritual substances like demons who are full of forms can impress our
minds potently. It will, of course, occur to the modern reader that
such illusions, like certain marvels of India, were perhaps produced by
hypnotic or other suggestion. William notes that illusions of this sort
are shown only to the gullible and “those ignorant of natural science,”
and that necromancers dare not produce or suggest such phantasms in the
presence of learned and rational men.

[Sidenote: Natural magic.]

There are, nevertheless, occult forces and powers in nature and
those men who are acquainted with them work many marvels and would
work much more wonderful ones, if they had an abundant supply of the
necessary materials.[1125] This is “that part of natural science which
is called natural magic.”[1126] “Philosophers call it necromancy or
_philosophica_, perhaps quite improperly, and it is the eleventh part
of all natural science.” This rather strange association of necromancy
with natural science for which William seems to apologize, we shall
meet again in Albertus Magnus and we have already met with it in
Gundissalinus, Daniel of Morley, and Al-Farabi. With them, however,
necromancy was one of only eight parts of natural science or astrology.
In a third passage William omits mention of necromancy, but again
asserts that certain marvels are natural operations and that knowledge
of them is one of the eleven parts of natural science.[1127] It is with
it that the books of experiments are especially concerned.[1128] From
them and from “the books of natural narrations” you can learn “the
causes and reasons of certain magic works, especially those which are
by the art of natural magic.” The materials possessed of the marvelous
virtues essential for this art are very rare in Europe, but in India
and lands near it they abound, and hence natural magic flourishes
vigorously there, and there are many experimenters there who work
marvels by their skill.[1129]

[Sidenote: Natural magic is not concerned with demons.]

Between this natural magic and that due to demons William makes a
decided distinction.[1130] In natural magic nothing is done by the
aid of demons. The workers of the one are called _magi_ because they
do great things (_magna agentes_) although some may have evilly
interpreted the word as meaning evil-doers (_male agentes_).[1131] And
these others who perform such works by the aid of demons are to be
regarded as evil-doers. William indeed perhaps uses the word _malefici_
(sorcerers) more often than _magi_ for workers of evil magic, but he
cannot be said to observe any such distinction uniformly. He does,
however, express his intention of setting forth “the causes and ways
and methods” by which even the phantasies and illusions of magic are
produced naturally, but of “perditious methods such as nefarious
sacrifices and oblations and sacrilegious observances” he intends to
reveal nothing.[1132] In natural magic William seems to see no harm
whatever, unless it is employed for evil ends. He grants, however,
that some of its works are so marvelous that they seem to the ignorant
to be the works of gods or demons, and that this has been one cause
of idolatry in times past.[1133] So in order that Christianity might
prevail, it was ordered that anyone performing such works should be
considered evil and a sorcerer (_malus et maleficus_), and that
works of this sort should be regarded as performed not by the virtue
of any natural object but rather by the aid and power of demons.
But specialists in such matters are not “surprised at these feats
but glorify the Creator alone in them, knowing that nature alone in
accordance with His omnipotent will operates both in the customary
manner known to men and contrary to custom not only in new ways but new
things.” In another context William again affirms that natural magic
involves no offense or injury to the Creator unless one works evil or
too curiously by that art.[1134]

[Sidenote: Some instances of natural magic.]

One example of the marvels worked by means of natural magic is the
sudden generation of such animals as frogs and worms. Here the natural
processes of generation are hastened by applying certain aids, and
William does not doubt the assertion of Emuth that by mixing seeds new
animals can be bred.[1135] Other phenomena belonging under natural
magic are the marvels worked outside its own body by the soul of the
basilisk and certain other animals and certain human souls--a hint that
the power of fascination is natural magic.[1136] In short, all use of
occult virtue in nature may be classed as natural magic.

[Sidenote: “The sense of nature.”]

Of William’s statements concerning occult virtue we shall hear more
under that head. But we may note here what he says of “the sense of
nature,”[1137] which he calls “one of the roots of natural magic,”
which he often mentions, and which in his opinion accounts for a number
of wonderful things.[1138] It is “a sublimer sense than any human
apprehension and nobler and more akin to prophecy.” By it one senses
the presence in the house of a burglar or harlot who is otherwise
unperceived by any of the ordinary senses. By it some dogs can detect
a thief in a crowd.[1139] It is the mysterious power by which vultures
foresee the coming battle, sheep detect the approach of the wolf, and
the spider that of the fly. William tells of a woman who could feel
the presence of the man she loved when he was two miles distant[1140]
and of another woman who so abhorred her husband that she fell into
an epileptic fit whenever he entered the house.[1141] In the main,
this sense of nature seems about the same as what other writers call
the power of natural divination. William, however, in several cases
accounts for it by the strong sympathy or antipathy existing between
the two persons or animals concerned.

[Sidenote: Magic’s too extreme pretensions.]

While William accepts such marvels and strange forces, there are many
claims of magic which he refuses to grant.[1142] As we shall see later
he sets limits even to the powers of demons. Much less will he allow
the extreme powers asserted of human magicians. In the books of the
magicians appear subversions of nature of every sort. They would bind
fire so that it cannot burn, robbers that they may not steal in a
certain region, a well or spring so that no water may be drawn from
it, and so with merchants and ships. They would even stop water from
flowing down hill. William contends that such works are possible only
by divine miracle, and that if the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Arabs
could really accomplish the lies in their books, they would have
conquered the world long ago. Nay, the world would be at the mercy of
any single magician or sorcerer (_magi seu malefici_). William then
raises the objection that if two magicians tried to gain the same
object at once, the magic of one or the other would prove a failure or
they would both share an imperfect and half-way success, and in either
case the promises of their art would prove a failure. The same logic
might be applied to the advice how to succeed given to young men by
some of our “self-made” millionaires (are they _magi_ or _malefici_?)
who have exploited natural resources. William, however, goes on to
explain that the books of magic say that not all artificers are equally
skilful or born under a lucky star. He points out the limitations of
Pharaoh’s magicians in much the usual manner.[1143]

[Sidenote: Wax images.]

William not only denies that magic can attain some extreme results,
but also denies that some of the methods employed in magic are
suited or adequate to the ends aimed at. He especially attacks the
employment of images and characters, words, names, and incantations.
The use of wax images in magic to harm the person or thing of whom the
image is made seems to him a futile proceeding. He will not believe
that Nectanebo--the magician of the Pseudo-Callisthenes, it will be
remembered--could sink the ships of the enemy by submerging wax images
of them.[1144] Such magic images possess neither intelligence nor will,
nor can they act by bodily virtue, since that requires contact either
direct or indirect to be effective.[1145] If someone suggests that
they act by sense of nature, he should know that inanimate objects are
incapable of this.[1146] The only way in which the occasional seemingly
successful employment of such images can be accounted for is that
when the magician does anything to the image, demons inflict the same
sufferings upon the person against whom the image is used, and thus
deceive men into thinking that the virtue of the image accomplishes
this result.[1147]

[Sidenote: Factitious gods.]

Hermes Trismegistus speaks to Asclepius in the _Liber de hellera_ or
_De deo deorum_ of terrestrial gods, associated each with some material
substance, such as stones and aromatics which have the natural force
of divinity in them.[1148] Hermes, however, distinguished from natural
gods “factitious gods,” or statues, idols, and images made by man,
into which “the splendor of deity and virtue of divinity” is poured or
impressed by celestial spirits or the heavens and stars, “and this with
observation of the hours and constellations when the image is cast or
engraved or fabricated.” William regrets to say that traces of this
error still prevail “among many old women, and Christians at that.”
And they say that sixty years after their manufacture these images lose
their virtue. William does not believe that there is divinity in stones
or herbs or aromatics, or that men can make gods of any sort.[1149]
Minds and souls cannot be put into statues,[1150] and William concludes
that Trismegistus “erred shamefully” and “was marvelously deceived by
the evil spirits themselves.”[1151] He also calls impossible “what is
so celebrated among the astrologers (_astronomos_), and written in so
many of the books, namely, that a statue will speak like a man if one
casts it of bronze in the rising of Saturn.”[1152]

[Sidenote: Characters and figures.]

William likewise holds that characters or figures or impressions or
astrological images have no force unless they are tokens by which the
evil spirits may recognize their worshipers.[1153] There is no divinity
in the angles of Solomon’s pentagon. William states that some are led
into this error from their theories concerning the stars, and that
the idolatrous cult of the stars distinguishes four kinds of figures:
seals, rings, characters, and images.[1154] Such are the rings and
seal of Solomon with their “execrable consecrations and detestable
invocations.” Even more unspeakable is that image called _idea
Salomonis et entocta_, and the figure known as _mandel_ or _amandel_.
So excessive are the virtues attributed to such images that they belong
only to God, so that it is evident that God has been shorn of His glory
which has been transferred to such figures. Artesius in his book on the
virtue of words and characters asserts that by a certain magic figure
he bound a mill so that the wheels could not turn.[1155] But William is
incredulous as to such powers in characters. He thinks that one might
as well say that virtue of the figure would run the mill without water
or mill-wheels. If the mill did stop, it must have been the work of
demons. Nor can William see any sense in writing the day and hour when
thunder was heard in that locality on the walls of houses in order to
protect them from lightning.[1156] It seems to him an attribution of
the strongest force to the weakest sort of an incidental occurrence.

[Sidenote: Power of words denied.]

William indeed denies that there is magic power in mere words or
incantations. Mere words cannot kill men or animals as sorcerers
claim.[1157] William argues scholastically that if spoken words
possessed any such virtue they must derive it either from the material
of which they are composed, air, or from their form, sound; or from
what they signify. Air cannot kill unless it is poisoned by a plague,
dragon, or toad. Sound to kill must be deafening. If what is signified
by the word is the cause, then images, which are more exact likenesses,
would be more powerful than words. William’s opinion is that when
sorcerers employ magic words and incantations they are simply calling
upon the demons for aid, just as the worshipers of God sometimes induce
Him to work wonders by calling upon His name.

[Sidenote: Use of divine names.]

This brings William to the delicate question of divine names. He
censures the use of the name of God by “magicians and astronomers”
in “working their diabolical marvels.”[1158] He also notes that they
employ a barbaric name and not one of the four Hebrew names of God.
They forbid anyone who is not pure and clad in pure vestments to
presume to touch the book in which this name is written, but they
try to gain evil ends by it and so blaspheme against their Creator.
William, however, seems to feel that the names of God have a virtue not
found in ordinary words and he states that not only servants of God
but even wicked men sometimes cast out demons by making use of holy

[Sidenote: Christian magic.]

In short, incantations possess no efficacy, but exorcisms do. This
is an indication, not merely of William’s logical inconsistency, but
also of the existence of a Christian or ecclesiastical variety of
magic in his day. He will not believe in Nectanebo’s wax images, but
he believes that the forms of wax which have the likeness of lambs
receive through the benediction of the pope the virtue of warding off
thunderbolts.[1159] He denied that magic words had efficacy through
their sound but he affirms that consecrated bells prevent storms within
the sound of their ringing, and that salt and water which have been
blessed obtain the power of expelling demons. William, however, takes
refuge in God’s omnipotent virtue to explain the efficacy of these
Christian charms.

[Sidenote: Magic of sex and generation.]

Magic appears to have always devoted considerable attention to matters
of sex and generation, and William’s works give one or two instances of
this. He states that sorcerers investigate the cohabiting of certain
animals, thinking that if they kill them at that hour they will obtain
from their carcasses potent love-charms and aids to fecundity.[1160]
We are also told that men have tried to produce, and thought that they
succeeded in producing human life in other ways than by the usual
generative process.[1161] “And in the books of experiments may be found
mockeries of women similar to those which the demons called _incubi_
work and which certain sorcerers have attempted and left in writing for
posterity.” They have recorded a delusive experiment by which women who
have been known only once or twice think that this has occurred fifty
or sixty times.

[Sidenote: William’s contribution to the bibliography of magic.]

As has been already incidentally suggested, William offers considerable
information as to the bibliography of magic in his day. Besides his
many general allusions to works of magic, writings of sorcerers and
prestidigitateurs and astrologers and books of experiments, he mentions
several particular works ascribed to Aristotle and Avicenbros, to
Hermes Trismegistus and Solomon, the “cursed book” of Cocogrecus on
“Stations to the cult of Venus” and, what is perhaps the same, of Thot
grecus on “The cult of Venus.”[1162] An Artesius or Arthesius, whom
in one passage he calls a magician and cites concerning divination
by water and whom in another passage he calls both a magician and
a philosopher who had written a book on the virtue of words and
characters,[1163] is probably the same Artesius who is cited concerning
divination by the rays of the sun or moon in liquids or mirrors in a
work of alchemy in a twelfth century manuscript,[1164] and further
identical with the Artephius who Roger Bacon says lived for one
thousand and twenty-five years,[1165] to whom a treatise is ascribed in
the _Theatrum Chymicum_[1166] and a Sloane manuscript,[1167] and who
seems to have been the same as Altughra’i, a poet and alchemist who
died in 1128.[1168] There also are a number of magic books of which
William does not give the author’s name or the title, but of which
he gives descriptions or from which he makes citations which would
be sufficiently definite to identify the works should one meet with
them elsewhere. In our chapters on pseudo-literature and experimental
literature we treat of many of these works.

[Sidenote: Plan of the rest of this chapter.]

From our survey of magic proper as delineated in William’s works we now
turn to what he represents as the two chief forces in magic, namely,
the demons and the occult virtues in nature, and to two subjects which
he closely connects with magic, namely, divination and astrology. These
four topics will be taken up separately in the order stated.

[Sidenote: The theory of spiritual substances.]

Since William attributes so much of magic to demons, it is important
to note what he has to say concerning these “spiritual substances.” He
proposes to follow as his sources on the subject “authentic accounts”
(_sermones authentici_): first of all the statements of the divinely
inspired prophets, and after that the opinions of the philosophers
and also of the magicians. He observes elsewhere, however, that
there is a lack of literature on the subject; the sages have only
dipped into it and not yet plumbed it to its depths: in fact, only
the treatise of Avicenbros has come to his hands, and while that
authority has said and written many sublime things, far removed from
popular comprehension, still he has made only a beginning in this
field.[1169] William also utilizes, however, the works of Hermes
Trismegistus[1170] and other books of necromancy and magic--among them
Thot Graecus[1171]--the testimony of medical men[1172] and “innumerable
experiences” of men at large.[1173]

William professes himself open to conviction and new light on the
question of the assumption of bodies by good and bad spirits.[1174]
And it must be said that his whole treatment of spirits is full of
inconsistencies and difficulties. Part of the time he draws a hard
and fast line between spiritual substances and physical creation, but
only part of the time. He also essays the difficult task of explaining
how and to what extent these spiritual substances are able to disturb
physical creation, and how far they in turn are affected by it.

[Sidenote: Spirits in the heavens.]

To begin with, William takes up the difficult position--or rather
he makes it difficult for himself--but the usual one with medieval
theologians, that angels occupy physical space and are located in their
own heaven as the stars are in theirs.[1175] Some modern believers
in spiritualism hold a very similar position.[1176] He also declares
that the tenth and last or empyrean heaven will be the eternal abode
of men whose souls are saved, although the resurrected bodies of the
saved would presumably still be corporal substances.[1177] This raises
the further difficulty that apparently the empyrean heaven cannot
be the abode of the angels, as some theologians and saintly doctors
have held (for a corporal place cannot be filled except with corporal
substances), for those superficial persons who mock the authentic
divine revelation of scripture will say that “if that heaven is a
corporal place it cannot be filled except by corporal substances.”

[Sidenote: Will hell be big enough?]

Another point which puzzles William is whether there will be room in
hell for all the evil spirits and resurrected bodies of the damned
destined to make it their ultimate abode. The infernal regions,
located in the interior of our terrestrial globe, seem very small to
him compared with the vast expanse of the empyrean heaven which is
even greater than that of the fixed stars. And our earth is a mere dot
compared to the sphere of the fixed stars. If then that entire empyrean
heaven is to be filled with glorified men, how shall the infernal
regions hold all the damned?[1178] It will be seen that Dante’s later
cosmology is very similar to William’s.

[Sidenote: Astrological necromancy.]

William will not agree, however,[1179] with the books of magic and
the masters of images and illusions that the starry heavens and even
single planets are inhabited by spirits so that the circle of the moon
has fifty ministering spirits and that there are also angels in the
twelve signs of the zodiac. On the other hand, in an earlier chapter
he makes the statement that he has never heard anywhere even in magic
books of demons with power over celestial bodies.[1180] William is of
the opinion that Aristotle was deceived by an evil spirit into boasting
that a spirit had descended to him from the circle of Venus.[1181]
William argues that the starry heavens are _rational_ and able to
regulate themselves and do not require any ministering angels; and on
the other hand that the nobler spirits would not debase themselves by
ministering to mere celestial _bodies_.[1182] William’s own theory is
that demons dwell in the air about the earth and not in the planetary
heavens. He also speaks in one passage of their especially frequenting

[Sidenote: False accounts of fallen angels.]

William also rejects[1184] some non-Christian assertions concerning
fallen angels. One is the statement of the author of a book of sorcery,
who claimed to have communed with spirits thirty years, to the effect
that new spirits are created daily, and that there are twelve orders
of them, and that every day a multitude of them fall and that they
fall into different regions of the earth and there rule--some in
deserts, some in woods, some in fountains and rivers, some in herbs and
trees, some in gems and stones, which thus derive their marvel-working
qualities from them. The other account rejected by William is a
pretty story from Hermes to this effect.[1185] When two angels were
criticizing mankind harshly for its sinfulness God incarnated them to
see how much better they would do. Both promptly fell in love with a
beautiful woman who would return their love only on condition that they
renounce God. When they had done even this, God called them to heaven,
reproved them for not having justified their criticism of sinful
mankind, and told them to choose now their place of punishment. They
selected the air, but later through the prayers of a prophet in Babylon
were shut up in a cave to await their final punishment at the last

[Sidenote: Different kinds of spirits.]

William of course makes the usual sharp Christian distinction between
good spirits or angels and bad spirits or demons. It is the latter
alone, rather than spiritual substances in general, whom he connects
with magic, although naturally the magicians themselves often claim to
employ good spirits. William is in doubt whether fauns and pygmies
and some other monsters are demons or animals or men.[1186] He also
lists satyrs, _joculatores_, incubi, succubi, nymphs, Lares, Penates
and other old Latin names such as _cloacina_, _Lucina_, _limitanus_,
_priapus_, _genius_, _hymenus_.[1187] He regards as a delusion the
belief fostered by old-wives in demons who injure infants.[1188]
Despite his mention of incubi and succubi and despite the verses of
Scripture about the sons of God and the daughters of men and that woman
ought to veil her head on account of the angels, he regards demons as
incapable of sexual intercourse with human beings, but he thinks it
possible that they may juggle with nature so as to produce the effects
of sexual intercourse.[1189] He mentions the belief in a demon who
comes to cellars at night in women’s clothing and bestows abundance and
prosperity where food and drink is left uncovered for it to partake
of, which it does without diminishing the quantity. “And they call her
_satia_ from satiety.”

[Sidenote: Limited demon control of nature.]

What is the extent of the control over matter exercised by the demons
in performing marvels? In discussing what demons can and cannot perform
in the ways of marvels, William’s decisions seem rather arbitrary and
capricious.[1190] He grants them superhuman powers of divination and
says that it has been repeatedly proved that they know when invocations
and sacrifices are made to them.[1191] But the apparitions which they
produce are neither real objects nor images in the air but thoughts
and pictures in the mind of the beholder.[1192] The armies of horsemen
produced by necromancers leave no prints of hoofs behind them and their
elaborate castles with gates, towers, walls, and citadel completely
vanish without leaving a trace.[1193] This explains how enchanters and
magicians can apparently cut horses in two, although William grants
it not unlikely that there may be other ways of doing this for those
“who know the marvellous occult virtues of many things.” William also
discusses how demons can toss sticks and stones about, throw persons
out of bed, and transport men or huge rocks for great distances when
they have neither necks nor shoulders to carry them on.[1194] This is
no more strange, he says, than the magnet’s ability to draw iron.[1195]
He believes that the virtue of spiritual substances can overcome weight
which holds bodies at rest and produce lightness which makes motion
easy. It was thus that an angel transported one of the Hebrew prophets
to Babylon by a lock of his hair. It is doubtful, however, if this last
could have been accomplished save by divine aid. He doubts furthermore
if horses could be generated as the frogs were by the Egyptian
magicians of Pharaoh. The generation of frogs is a much easier and more
rapid process. Also the wax lights which mysteriously appear in stables
on the horses’ manes and tails would be easy for demons to make.[1196]
But William disbelieves in such magic transformations as werwolves. His
explanation is that the devil first made the man imagine himself a wolf
and then caused a real wolf to appear and frighten people.[1197] Demons
cannot make idols or images speak, but when the bodies of human beings
are possessed by demons, they form voices after a fashion, although, as
exorcists have assured him, in a raucous tone unlike the usual human
voice, probably because the vocal chords respond but indifferently to
demoniacal abuse of them.[1198]

[Sidenote: Can demons be imprisoned or enter bodies?]

William is sure that demons cannot be imprisoned against their will in
material bodies, whether rings, gems, mirrors, or glass phials such as
Solomon is said to have shut them up in.[1199] William argues that if
a man died in a huge corked bottle his soul would be able to get out.
William, however, believes his Bible when it tells him of demons shut
up in men whom “they vex with innumerable tortures,” or in swine or
in lakes,[1200] although he declares that he does not adduce the case
of demons in swine because it is recorded in the Bible but because
it is attested by the experience of many. And he declares that even
to his day demons give most certain indication of their presence in
lakes when stones are thrown in or they are provoked by some other
movement or sound.[1201] He states, however, that many medical men deny
that human beings are possessed by demons and attribute the seizures
and agitations to fumes and vapors.[1202] Many skilled doctors also
dispute the existence of the nocturnal demon called _ephialtes_ and
attribute the oppressive feeling to action of the heart and not to the
weight of a demon. In this instance William is inclined to agree with
the physicians.[1203] William holds that it is useless to strike at
demons when they appear before you, for you merely beat the air, as
many experiments have shown.[1204] But he believes that demons can be
punished not only by material hell fire but by contact with the other
three elements, air, earth and water.

[Sidenote: Susceptibility of demons to the four elements and to natural

Demons feel any affront offered or indignity done them very keenly so
that saints have often routed them by a volley of spit. William is also
inclined to accept the “ancient opinion among the Romans” that human
urine dissolves works of magic.[1205] Furthermore there are several
natural objects which have the occult virtue of driving away demons,
a peony suspended from the neck--Galen’s old remedy for the epileptic
boy--or the top of the heart of a certain fish placed on the coals. If
it is asked how it is that these proud spiritual substances are thus
subject to the virtues of physical bodies, William can only answer that
it is probably in consequence of their fall, which also subjected them
to hell fire. William’s logic simply reduces to this, that God can do
anything He pleases with demons while men can do nothing with them
against the demons’ wills and without imperiling their own souls.

[Sidenote: Stock examples of natural marvels.]

William is as credulous concerning the marvelous powers attributed
to herbs, gems and animals, and as anxious to find some plausible
explanation of their validity, as he was sceptical in regard to images,
characters and words. We encounter once more in his pages many of the
stock examples of natural marvels which we have met again and again
in previous writers and shall find in many writers after him. He
rhapsodizes concerning the power of the magnet and mentions its three
species according to Hermes (Mercurius).[1206] He tells of the phoenix,
of the masculine and feminine palms, and of theriac.[1207] Indeed, the
magnet, the palms, and the story of the hazel rod told below are all
introduced while William is supposedly discussing divine providence.
In more than one passage he tells--perhaps directly from Pliny--of
the stupefaction produced by the _torpedo_ in persons who touch it
only with a long stick, of the little _echinus_ or _remora_ which
stops great ships, or of the powers of lion and basilisk, and of the
gem heliotrope which aided by the virtue of the herb of the same name
renders one invisible.[1208] For this assertion concerning heliotrope,
however, which Pliny stigmatized as an example of the magicians’
impudence,[1209] William cites the writings of experimenters.

[Sidenote: The hazel rod story.]

On the other hand, a passage in William’s work concerning the property
of a hazel rod was repeated within a few years by at least three
writers: Albertus Magnus, John of St. Amand, and Roger Bacon. William
relates that men say that if the rod is split in two lengthwise
the halves will approach one another again of their own accord and
reunite.[1210] Deceivers attribute this to the virtue of certain words
which they utter, but it is by virtue and sense of nature.

[Sidenote: Occult virtues of herbs and animals.]

William regards the occult virtue of things on this earth as so certain
that he uses it to argue that the stars too must possess great
powers.[1211] This is attested “from the operations of the virtues of
other things, both animals and parts of them, also herbs, medicines,
and stones.”[1212] Of medicines he especially recommends the _empirica_
to the reader’s consideration.[1213] The virtues of herbs have been
proved to be very numerous and very marvelous.[1214] As for animals,
after describing the virtues of the basilisk, William adds, “and when
you have heard similar and maybe greater things concerning the occult
virtues of other animals, you will not marvel at these.” Among many
medicines which prolong life he believes that the flesh of snakes has
great renovating virtue,[1215] and among medicines supposed to produce
visions and revelations he names the eye of an Indian tortoise and
the heart of the hoopoe,[1216] which are thought to clear the soul of
noxious vapors in sleep and pave the way for illuminations. William
suggests that these substances may horrify one so as to shock the soul
free from the body. He even mentions a medicine the smoke from which
in the room in which one is sleeping will free the soul from the body
so that it emerges into the region of light and the luminosity of the
Creator.[1217] And in the case of the little fish which binds ships
so that they cannot move, he holds it indubitable that this cannot
possibly be done by any bodily virtue which it possesses and must be by
some spiritual virtue which exists in its soul.[1218] This reminds him
of the power of the human imagination as shown in the case of the man
who cast down a camel by merely imagining its fall.[1219]

[Sidenote: Virtues of gems.]

To the virtues of gems William alludes a number of times. He recounts
how the sapphire of its own motion springs into a diseased human eye
and cleanses it of its noxious humors.[1220] He also finds it asserted
that the emerald attracts riches to its owner and that the topaz
checks the passions of avarice, cupidity, luxury, and evil desire. He
endeavors to explain how it may be possible for the stone heliotrope to
render one invisible; as the power of the stone turns the brightness
of the sunlight to a ruby shade, so it may be that the potency of its
color prevents the spectators from discerning at all the color of the
man who wears it, just as it is said that a musical instrument strung
with snake-skin drowns the sound of all other instruments.[1221]

[Sidenote: A medley of marvelous virtues.]

Some of the virtues ascribed to natural objects William finds
almost too marvelous for belief, but then strengthens his faith by
recollecting some others which are more marvelous still, as the
following passage will illustrate.[1222] The experimenters have put in
their books the marvelous statement that the presence of a serpent or
of a reed containing some quicksilver affects sorcerers and magicians
so that their juggleries and incantations are of no avail. William, who
it will be recalled had elsewhere denied the ability of a magic figure
to stop a mill-wheel, is also inclined to question whether serpents
or quicksilver have any power over evil spirits and incantations. But
then he remembers that the experimenters also assert that a crab hung
in mid-air keeps moles who move underground out of the field and that
the herb peony drives devils out of demoniacs. Since the peony has many
virtues necessary for men and demons hate men, William thinks it likely
that they hate the herb too, and flee from it, when it is suspended
about one’s neck. And in one of the books of the Hebrews it is
expressly stated that one of the holy angels said that the top of the
heart of a certain fish placed on live coals would drive any kind of
demon out of men or women. This book is received as authentic by both
Hebrews and Christians, and William also regards an archangel as a good
authority. This being established, he sees no reason why a snake may
not have power over demons too. He recalls too the ancient belief among
the Romans that human urine dissolves all works of magic; the manifest
fact that jasper drives away snakes and that eagles place it in their
nests for this reason; and that the gem achates or agate taken powdered
in drink causes the unchaste to vomit. In Great Britain they test the
morals of boys and girls by this experiment. This property of the agate
causes William to marvel much, for he sees no connection between stones
and virginity. However, if the agate is incompatible with unchastity,
what wonder if quicksilver will not tolerate the working of magic in
its presence?

It has been made evident that William accepts very extreme powers in
natural objects and that with such resources the possibilities of his
natural magic should be well-nigh unlimited. If he does not quite
believe in all these marvels, he does not definitely deny them, and
evidently enjoys repeating them.

[Sidenote: Divination not an art but revelation.]

William states that the proper meaning of divination is imitation
of the deity, but that the term is usually not applied to the
revelations made by good spirits and prophets but to the revelation
of hidden things, especially the future, by evil spirits.[1223] For
he also affirms that divination is not a human art but a matter of
revelation. The medical prognostications of physicians, although they
may seem occult to other men, are based on experience of their art and
astronomers are not called diviners but men of learning. While William
may deny that the diviner is an _artifex_, he has to admit that some
diviners use tools or materials and so give their predictions the
appearance of being based upon some art.

[Sidenote: Divination by inspection of lucid surfaces.]

Of this type is the practice of predicting the future by gazing upon
polished and reflecting surfaces which are rubbed with oil to increase
their lucidity.[1224] Among the substances employed are mirrors,
two-edged swords, children’s finger-nails, egg shells, and ivory
handles. Usually a boy or a virgin is employed to gaze thereupon,
and sometimes exorcisms, adjurations, and observance of times are
added. William affirms that many experiences have demonstrated that
only one boy out of seven or ten sees anything therein, and he is of
the opinion that the whole apparatus simply conceals “the impiety of
diabolical sacrifices.” Some ancient sages, nevertheless, notably
Plato, have thought that the soul of the gazer is thrown back upon
itself by the luminosity of the object seen and then exercises its
latent powers of natural divination. We sometimes see such revelations
by the irradiation of spiritual light in the insane, the very ill,
dreamers, and those in whom because of great fright or care the mind
is abstracted from the body.[1225] William therefore finally concludes
that the theory of the philosophers as to divination by inspection of
lucid bodies “is undoubtedly possible,” but he still maintains that
demons are often involved.

[Sidenote: Other instances of divination, ancient and modern.]

William also tells us of an ancient Latin magician who believed that
the soul of an immaculate boy who had been slain by violence would have
knowledge of past, present and future.[1226] He therefore murdered a
boy, and then went insane himself and imagined that he heard responses
from the boy’s soul. This was surely the work of demons. Other ancient
philosophers blinded boys or themselves in order to increase the power
of the soul in divination.[1227] William further mentions the old-wives
of his own time who still persisted in divination and interpreting
dreams and could not be made to desist even by beatings.[1228] He
states that these old women still cherished the superstition of the
augurs that if you find a bird’s nest with the mother bird and little
ones or the eggs, and preserve it intact, all will go well with you,
while if you harm it or separate any bird or egg from it you will
encounter ill fortune.[1229]

[Sidenote: His treatment of astrology.]

William has much to say in his various works of the heavens and the
stars, and he rarely overlooks an opportunity to have a tilt with
the astrologers. Most of his statements and arguments had been often
employed before, however, and he also repeats himself a great deal, and
his long-drawn scholastic listing and rebutting of supposed reasons
pro and con at times becomes insufferably tedious. We shall therefore
compress his treatment to a very small space compared to that which it
occupies in his own works and words.

[Sidenote: The philosophers on the nature of the heavens and stars.]

William states that Plato and Aristotle, Boethius, Hermes Trismegistus,
and Avicenna, all believed the stars to be divine animals whose souls
were as superior to ours, as their celestial bodies are.[1230] Since
these philosophers regarded the stars as nobler, wiser, and more
powerful than mortals, they made them guardians and guides of humanity,
and distributed all earthly objects under their rule. Such doctrines
William recalls examining when he was young in the books of judicial
astrology and the volumes of magicians and sorcerers, from whom he
would appear to distinguish the above-named philosophers none too
carefully. He indeed explicitly classes “Plato and Aristotle and their
followers” with “those who believe in judgments of the stars.”[1231]
He also tells us that Plato regarded the entire universe as one divine
animal, and that his followers regarded the tides as the breathing of
this world animal; but that Aristotle and his school included only what
is above the moon or even only the heaven of the fixed stars.[1232]
Avicenna, too, called the heaven an animal obedient to God.

[Sidenote: William’s own opinion and attitude.]

William himself is inclined to think that the divisions and diversities
of the nine spheres militate against their being animated by a single
soul; and he rejects the theory that the world soul is composed of
number and musical consonance.[1233] But he leaves Christians free,
if they will, to believe with the Aristotelians and many Italian
philosophers that the superior world is either one or many animals,
that the heavens are either animated or rational.[1234] In this he
sees no peril to the Faith; but hitherto Hebrew and Christian doctrine
has not explored such matters, and Christians have been too absorbed
in saving men’s souls to note whether the heavens had souls or no.
It would indeed be strange if William denied the starry heavens some
sort of soul or souls when he has attributed one to a sea-fish like
the echinus.[1235] But he declares that “it is manifest that human
souls are nobler than those which they put in heavenly bodies.” And
he warns against the wicked error of identifying the Holy Spirit with
the world soul. We have noted elsewhere his hostility to the theory
of astrological necromancy that the heavens and stars are full of
ministering spirits. He also contraverts the Aristotelian doctrines
that there are as many intelligences moving the heavenly bodies
as there are celestial motions and that the heavens love superior
intelligences and strive to become assimilated to these.[1236]

[Sidenote: Objection to stars as cause of evil.]

Like most Christian apologists William adopts the argument that
the stars, if rational, would not cause evils and misfortunes such
as astrologers predict, and seems to think that all the evil in
the world can be charged to the account of human perversity or the
imperfections inherent in the matter of our inferior world, and that
for these two sources of ill neither God nor the stars should be held
responsible.[1237] He recognizes, it is true, that someone may argue
that these evils exist by the will of the Creator, whose will is
nevertheless always good, but he does not seem to see that the same
reasoning may be applied to the rule of the stars. He seems to regard
as a new discovery of his own and a point hitherto unrecognized by
astrologers, the argument that ineptitude on the part of inferior
matter receiving the force of the stars may account for many effects
apparently due to the heavens. But in thinking this argument novel he
is much mistaken. Really his only point here against astrologers is
that some of them are careless in their phraseology and speak of the
stars as causing evil, which he regards as blasphemy of Him who created
the stars. “And all blasphemy against the Creator,” continues William
in a truculent and intolerant tone which reveals the spirit of the
medieval inquisition, “is an impiety to be exterminated with fire and

[Sidenote: Virtues of the stars.]

William raises certain difficulties in regard to astrological technique
only to answer them himself. And he grants that fixed stars which
seem close together may really be separated by vast distances and so
have very different virtue. And he cannot deny “many marvelous and
occult virtues” in celestial bodies, when he admits “so many and so
great occult virtues” in terrestrial bodies. Indeed all philosophers
agree that the virtues of the stars far surpass even those of precious
stones. The variations in the heat of the sun, while its course
continues constant, seem to William a sure indication that the other
planets and fixed stars participate in influencing our world.

[Sidenote: Extent of their influence upon nature and man.]

While William was not unwilling to concede souls or reason to the
stars, he believes that it is perilous for Christians to regard the
souls of the heavens as “governors of inferior things and especially
of human affairs.”[1238] Those who hold that man’s actions are caused
of necessity by the motion of the sky and the positions of the stars,
ruin, in his opinion, the foundations of law and morality.[1239]
“Against that error, one ought not so much to dispute with arguments
as fight with fire and sword.” Some have argued that because stars
and lights were created before vegetation, animal life, and human
beings, they are causes of these others, both generating and regulating
them.[1240] In favor of this contention so much has been written that
it can scarcely be read, says William, and the stars do give much
aid in generation and in conservation of generated things, but not
so much as the astrologers think.[1241] They should not be consulted
even as signs--rather than causes--in human concerns.[1242] In our
sublunar world their power extends only to the four elements and
four humors and only to such animals composed of these as lack free
will and obey natural necessity. Thus William really excludes only
human free will and intellect from sidereal control,[1243] and he
admits that “the multitude and populace from want of intelligence and
other evil dispositions lives almost after the manner of brutes,”
following natural impulse to a great extent, so that astrologers may
predict popular agitations and mob uprisings with a fair degree of
accuracy, but should not predict concerning individuals. Even in the
case of individuals, however, he does not deny that natural virtues
and vices are attributable to the stars, such vices, for instance, as
irascibility, levity, and lubricity, which medical authorities ascribe
not to moral fault but physical constitution.[1244] William would limit
the influence of the stars not only by individual freedom of the will
but by the power of prayer.[1245] He does not believe the decrees of
fate so fixed and the laws of nature so unchangeable that God’s wrath
may not be placated by prayer, and freedom from any threatening evil
obtained from His goodness. Belief in the power of the stars and belief
in the power of prayers: which is the more superstitious, which the
more nearly scientific? Or which belief has led to progress in science?

[Sidenote: Against nativities, interrogations, and images.]

William complains that “Ptolemy and Haly and other astronomers” have
attributed original sin and all its consequences to the constellations
and hours of nativity, in that they have presumed to write books
of horoscopes and nativities.[1246] He feels it “necessary to say
something against that insanity” because of the great reputation such
famous writers have among the “simple and stupid multitude” which
regards them as profound sages and sublime prophets. Into William’s
particular arguments against the art of casting nativities, which much
resemble the arguments of Augustine and John of Salisbury, we will not
go. Elsewhere he also attacks the practice of interrogations.[1247]
He also strongly objects to the books which he says astrologers have
written on discovering men’s secret thoughts through the significations
of the stars.[1248]

William has much to say against astrological images, but his attitude
has already been partially indicated in stating his attitude towards
images, figures, and characters in general. He declares that belief
in astrological images “derogates more from the honor and glory of
the Creator than the error which attributes such virtue to the stars
and luminaries themselves.” It seems to him “a strange and quite
intolerable error to think that stars which cannot help themselves
can bestow such gifts as invincibility, social graces, temperance or
chastity.”[1249] Yet elsewhere we have heard him mention with seeming
complaisance the bestowal of riches and checking of evil passions
by emeralds and topazes. His best argument as against figures and
characters in general is that such lifeless bodies cannot produce
intellectual and moral effects in living human beings, especially when
the engraved gems are, as is usual, hidden away somewhere, or buried

[Sidenote: Astrology and religion and history.]

William condemns as error the association of the world’s leading
religions with the planets, as Judaism with Saturn, Islam with
Venus, and Christianity with the sun.[1250] The stars, he declares,
are subject to religion, not religion to the stars, and Joshua made
even the sun and moon stand still. William is candid enough to
recognize that the seven-branched candlestick in the Jewish tabernacle
designated the seven planets, but elsewhere states that the Mosaic
Law forbade observation of the stars.[1251] William also considers
the doctrine of the _magnus annus_ or Platonic year, that after
36,000 solar years history will repeat itself down to the minutest
detail owing to the recurrence of the former series of positions of
the constellations.[1252] Since this has the support of men of great
reputation, he lists various arguments advanced in its favor and rebuts
them in detail.

[Sidenote: Comets and the star of Bethlehem.]

William believes that comets appear in the sky and in the air “as signs
of slaughters and other great events in the world.” He mentions “the
universal belief” that they foretell the deaths of kings and political
changes.[1253] But he asserts that the star announcing Christ’s
birth was not of this sort and that the darkness at the time of the
Crucifixion was not due to an ordinary eclipse.


[1102] _Gulielmi Alverni episcopi Parisiensis mathematici perfectissimi
eximii philosophi ac theologi praestantissimi Opera omnia per
Joannem Dominicum Traianum Neapolitanum Venetiis ex officina Damiani
Zenari_, 1591. The _De universo_ occupies nearly half of the volume,
pp. 561-1012. My references will be to this edition and to the _De
universo_ unless some other title is specified. In it--and in such
other editions of William’s works as I have seen--the chapter headings
are often very poor guides to the contents, especially if the chapter
is of any length. There are at Paris thirteenth century MSS of the _De
fide_ and _De legibus_ (BN 15755) and _De universo_ (BN 15756).

The chief secondary work on William of Auvergne is Noel Valois,
_Guillaume d’Auvergne_, Paris, 1880. One chapter is devoted to his
attitude to the superstitions of his age, and goes to the other extreme
from Daunou, HL XVIII, 375, whom Valois criticizes for calling William
extremely credulous. The inadequacy of Valois’ chapter, at least from
our standpoint, may be inferred from his total omission of William’s
conception of “natural magic.” Valois has no treatment of William’s
attitude to natural science but contents himself with a discussion
of his philosophy and psychology. (See also M. Baumgartner, _Die
Erkenntnislehre des Wilhelm von Auvergne_, Münster, 1893.) The chapter
on William’s attitude to superstition is largely given over to examples
of popular superstitions in the thirteenth century, supplementing
legends of Brittany and other stories told by William with similar
anecdotes from the pages of Stephen of Bourbon, Caesar of Heisterbach,
and Gervaise of Tilbury. Valois’ citations of William’s works are from
an edition in which the pages were numbered differently from those in
the one I used.

[1103] Valois (1880), pp. 9-11.

[1104] Valois (1880), p. 53.

[1105] HL 18, 357.

[1106] II-iii-20, (pp. 994-95). Yet in another connection (I-i-46, pp.
625-26) William inconsistently makes the assertion that everything
depends absolutely upon God’s will alone as an argument against
employing magic images to gain one’s ends. He tells a story of a man
who, when a magician offered to secure him some great dignity in
his city, asked him if he could get it against God’s will. When the
magician admitted that he could not, the man asked if he could prevent
securing it if God willed it and the magician again answered “No.” The
man then said that he would commit it all to God. William does not seem
to see that this attitude is the same as that of ignorant persons who
leave scientific investigation to God or of hungry people who expect
God to feed them.

[1107] I-i-44, (p. 613).

[1108] I-i-42, (p. 608).

[1109] _Ibid._, (p. 606).

[1110] See I-iii-31, (p. 759). See also Valois, 304 and M. K. Werner,
_Wilhelms von Auvergne Verhältniss z. d. Platonikern des XII. Jhts_, in
_Vienna Sitzb._, vol. 74 (1873), p. 119 _et seq._

[1111] See I-ii-30, (p. 694) for an expression of this view.

[1112] I-ii-31, (p. 695).

[1113] II-iii-23, (pp. 1003-4).

[1114] _De legibus_, Cap. 25, (p. 75).

[1115] I-ii-21, (p. 680): II-iii-7, (p. 973).

[1116] II-iii-23, p. (1003): _De legibus_, Cap. 24, (p. 73): II-ii-29,
(p. 820).

[1117] II-iii-7, (p. 971).

[1118] II-iii-22, (p. 998).

[1119] _De legibus_, Cap. 9, (pp. 38-39).

[1120] See Cap. 13 (p. 43) and before

[1121] Cap. 23, (p. 65).

[1122] Cap. 14, (pp. 44-45).

[1123] II-iii-22, (p. 998) ... opera huiusmodi quae opera magica et
ludificationes vel hominum vel daemonum nuncupantur.

[1124] II-iii-7, (p. 971): II-iii-12, (pp. 977-79).

[1125] II-iii-21, (pp. 997-998) naturarum vires et potentias occultas,

[1126] I-i-43, (p. 612): _De legibus_, Cap. 24, (p. 67).

[1127] _De legibus_, Cap. 14 (p. 44).

[1128] II-iii-22, (p. 999).

[1129] II-iii-23, (p. 1003).

[1130] _De legibus_, Cap. 14, (p. 46).

[1131] II-iii-21, (p. 998).

[1132] II-iii-12, (p. 979).

[1133] _De legibus_, Cap. 24, (pp. 67-68).

[1134] I-i-46, (p. 627).

[1135] _De legibus_, Cap. 24, (pp. 67-68).

[1136] I-i-43, (p. 612).

[1137] “Sensus naturae,” _De legibus_, Cap. 27, (p. 88).

[1138] See pp. 875, 876 and 983 as well as the following reference.
I-i-46, (p. 624).

[1139] II-ii-70, (p. 870).

[1140] II-ii-69, (p. 869).

[1141] II-ii-70, (p. 870).

[1142] I-i-46, (p. 625).

[1143] II-iii-22, (p. 1000).

[1144] I-i-46, (p. 625).

[1145] I-i-46, (p. 626).

[1146] I-i-46, (p. 624).

[1147] I-i-46, (p. 627).

[1148] _De legibus_, Cap. 23, (p. 64): II-iii-22, (p. 999).

[1149] _De legibus_, Cap. 26, (p. 82).

[1150] _Ibid._, Cap. 27, (pp. 84 ff.).

[1151] II-iii-22, (p. 999).

[1152] _De legibus_, Cap. 26, (p. 84).

[1153] _Ibid._, Cap. 27, (pp. 86-87).

[1154] _Ibid._, Cap. 23, (p. 65).

[1155] II-iii-23, (p. 1003).

[1156] _De legibus_, Cap. 27, (p. 89).

[1157] _Ibid._, (pp. 87-88).

[1158] _Ibid._, (p. 89).

[1159] _De legibus_, Cap. 27, (p. 84).

[1160] _Ibid._, Cap. 4, (p. 34).

[1161] II-iii-25, (p. 1010).

[1162] II-ii-96, (p. 895).

[1163] _De universo_, pp. 996-7, also 1003; _De legibus_, cap. 27 (p.

[1164] Berlin 956, 12th century, fol. 21, Hic incipit alchamia....

[1165] Bridges, II, 212.

[1166] _Theatrum Chymicum_, Strasburg, 1613, IV, 221.

[1167] Sloane 1118, 15th century, #28. Arthephii capitulum ex opere
solis extractum.

[1168] Gildemeister in _Zeitsch. d. Deutsch. Morgenl. Ges._ XXXIII,
534: cited by Lippmann (1919), 408.

[1169] _De legibus_, Cap. 26, (pp. 81-82): I-i-44, (p. 613).

[1170] _De universo_ II-ii-37, (p. 831): II-ii-100 (p. 898).

[1171] _Ibid._, II-ii-96, (p. 895).

[1172] _Ibid._, II-iii-13, (p. 982): II-iii-24, (p. 1007).

[1173] _Ibid._, II-ii-63, (p. 860): II-ii-70, (p. 871): II-iii-6, (p.
968): II-iii-17, (p. 988).

[1174] _Ibid._, II-iii-24, (p. 1007).

[1175] _Ibid._, II-ii-84 and 85, (pp. 885-6).

[1176] Among errors condemned at Paris in 1240 by William as bishop the
seventh was “that neither glorified souls nor glorious or glorified
bodies will be in the empyrean heaven with the angels but in the watery
or crystalline (heaven) which is above the firmament. Which they even
presume to say of the blessed virgin. On the contrary it should be
believed that there is the same place for holy angels and souls of the
blest, namely, the empyrean heaven,” etc.

The eighth error was “that an angel can in the same instant be in
different places and is everywhere if he wishes to be everywhere.”

These errors and various other sets of errors condemned at Paris and
Oxford are printed in an incunabulum numbered IA.4778 in the British

[1177] _De universo_ I-i-34, (p. 595 ff). Also Cap. 43 (pp. 609 to 611).

[1178] Who William believes will exceed the saved in numbers: “De
multitudine vero damnandorum omnis lex determinatum habet apud se quod
multo maior futura sit multitudine glorificandorum.” The passage has
already been quoted in HL XVIII, 371-2.

[1179] _De legibus_, Cap. 24, (p. 73.) _De universo_ II-ii-96, (p. 895).

[1180] _Ibid._, II-ii-70, (p. 871).

[1181] _Ibid._, II-ii-39 and 98, (pp. 833 and 897) and II-iii-6, (p.
967): also II-ii-96, (p. 895).

[1182] _De universo_, II-ii-97, (p. 896).

[1183] _De legibus_, Cap. 9, (pp. 38-39).

[1184] _De universo_, II-ii-29, (p. 820) and II-iii-6 to 8, (pp. 966 to

[1185] _Ibid._, II-ii-37, (p. 831): II-ii-100, (p. 898).

[1186] _De universo_, II-iii-7, (p. 970).

[1187] _Ibid._, II-iii-12, (pp. 976-7).

[1188] _Ibid._, II-iii-24, (p. 1004).

[1189] _Ibid._, II-iii-25, (pp. 1009-10).

[1190] _Ibid._, II-iii-23, (p. 1000).

[1191] _De legibus_, Cap. 24, (p. 67).

[1192] _De universo_, I-ii-21, (p. 680), and II-ii-63, (p. 860).

[1193] _Ibid._, II-iii-12, (p. 979).

[1194] _De universo_, II-ii-70, (p. 871).

[1195] _Ibid._ (p. 1001).

[1196] _Ibid._ (pp. 1003-1004).

[1197] _Ibid._, II-iii-13, (p. 983).

[1198] _De legibus_, Cap. 26, (p. 83-4).

[1199] _De legibus_, Cap. 26, (p. 81).

[1200] _De universo_, II-iii-6, (p. 968).

[1201] _Ibid._, II-iii-17, (p. 987).

[1202] _Ibid._, II-iii-13, (p. 982).

[1203] _Ibid._, II-iii-24, (p. 1007).

[1204] _Ibid._, II-iii-17, (p. 988).

[1205] _Ibid._, II-iii-22, (p. 999).

[1206] I-iii-11, (p. 731: also pp. 756-57).

[1207] I-ii-16, (p. 668): II-iii-22 (p. 999).

[1208] II-ii-73, (p. 873): II-iii-22, (p. 998): II-iii-16, (p. 986):
I-i-46, (p. 621).

[1209] NH 37, 60.

[1210] I-iii-11, (p. 731).

[1211] I-i-46, (p. 621).

[1212] The influence of this passage is seen in a MS at Paris which
was once the property of the humanist Budé: BN nouv. acq. 433, anno
1486, fol. 1: Excerpta from William of Auvergne, “et primo ex capitulo
de virtutibus occultis quorundam animalium herbarum et lapidum
relatorum ad consideracionem astronomicam et astronomorum, ut plurimum,

[1213] II-ii-76 (p. 876), necnon et exemplis occultarum operationum et
mirabilium quaeque nonnulli medicorum et etiam quidam philosophorum
naturalium empirica vocant.

[1214] II-iii-22, (p. 999).

[1215] I-i-59, (p. 639).

[1216] II-iii-21, (p. 997).

[1217] II-iii-20, (p. 995).

[1218] II-iii-16, (p. 986).

[1219] This illustration is also used by Peter of Abano, _Conciliator_,
Diff. 135; and is found in the 219 opinions of Siger de Brabant and
others condemned at Paris in 1277 (see below, Chapter 62).

[1220] I-i-46, (p. 621).

[1221] II-iii-22, (p. 998).

[1222] II-iii-22, (p. 999).

[1223] II-iii-18, (p. 989).

[1224] _Ibid._ and _De legibus_, Cap. 24, (p. 68).

[1225] II-iii-20, (p. 993).

[1226] II-iii-19, (p. 990).

[1227] II-iii-20, (p. 994).

[1228] I-iii-27, (pp. 750-51).

[1229] _De legibus_, Cap. 2, (p. 31).

[1230] _De legibus_, cap. 25 (p. 75). _De universo_, I-iii-27, (p. 751).

[1231] I-iii-28, (p. 753).

[1232] I-iii-27, (pp. 751-2).

[1233] I-iii-30, (p. 757).

[1234] I-iii-31, (p. 759).

[1235] I-ii-29, (p. 693).

[1236] I-ii-5, (p. 650): II-i-45, (p. 794): II-i-4, (p. 763).

[1237] I-i-46, (pp. 618-23).

[1238] I-iii-28, (pp. 753-4).

[1239] I-iii-20, (p. 740).

[1240] I-i-42, (pp. 606-7).

[1241] I-i-46, (pp. 627-8).

[1242] I-iii-31, (p. 759).

[1243] I-i-46, (pp. 628-9).

[1244] _Ibid._, (p. 620).

[1245] _Ibid._, (p. 626).

[1246] _De vitiis et peccatis_, cap. 6, (p. 264).

[1247] _De legibus_, cap. 20, (p. 55).

[1248] I-i-46, (p. 628).

[1249] _De universo_, I-i-46, (pp. 622 ff). _De legibus_, cap. 23, (p.

[1250] _Ibid._, cap. 20, (p. 53).

[1251] _Ibid._, cap. 2, (p. 31): I-i-46, (p. 628).

[1252] I-ii-16 and 17, (pp. 667-9).

[1253] I-i-46, (p. 629).



 _De natura rerum_; date, authorship, and relation to
 similar works--Life of Thomas--Character of the _De natura
 rerum_--Plan and contents--Chief authorities--Embodiment of
 long extracts--Other citations--Credulous attitude--Very
 uncritical character of the _Bonum universale de apibus_--A
 chapter on the lion--Different kinds of lions: their
 generation--Disposition and behavior--Fear inspired
 and felt by lions--Their diet, medicine, and mode of
 fighting--Medical virtues of the lion’s carcass--Medieval
 and modern encyclopedias compared--Examples of the zoology
 of the Experimenter--Fish, worms, and toads--Solomon’s
 experiment in worms--Trees--Marvelous virtues of stones--An
 adamantine mariner’s compass--The mariner’s compass and
 magic--Occult virtues of sculptured gems--Thetel on images
 on stones--Zahel or Zaël the Israelite--Consecration of
 gems--The seven metals: modern plumbing--The seven regions
 of the air--Astrological--Elements and spirits--Other works
 incorrectly ascribed to Thomas of Cantimpré--Appendix I.
 The Manuscripts of the _De natura rerum_--Appendix II. Some
 Manuscripts of the Treatise of Thetel on Seals.

[Sidenote: _De natura rerum_; Date, authorship, and relation to similar

We now approach the consideration of two works with titles similar
to Alexander Neckam’s _On the Natures of Things_, namely, Thomas
of Cantimpré’s _On the Nature of Things_[1254] and Bartholomew of
England’s _On the Properties of Things_. These two works are much
longer and more elaborate than Neckam’s, containing each nineteen
books, whereas of his five books only two really dealt with the natures
of things, and they lead up to the later and still better known natural
encyclopedia of Vincent of Beauvais. Thomas and Bartholomew were
contemporaries and it is difficult to say whose book was finished or
appeared first but we shall consider Thomas first. As he says that he
spent fourteen or fifteen years in collecting his material, he perhaps
began to write first and his work seems to reflect a somewhat less
developed state of learning. Thomas is later than Michael Scot whom he
cites, while an allusion to Jacques de Vitry as the most recent of his
authorities and as now bishop of Tusculum and a cardinal indicates that
the work was finished between 1228 and 1244. On the whole Thomas and
Bartholomew seem to have compiled their works independently, employing
different general plans, emphasizing rather different fields, and using
somewhat different authorities. Possibly, therefore, the two works may
have been completed almost simultaneously, and one wonders whether
they may not have represented rival ventures of the two friar orders.
Bormans and Rose[1255] after him have dwelt on the use made of Thomas’s
compilation by his fellow Dominicans, Vincent of Beauvais and Albertus
Magnus, but I have little doubt that most of his sources were known to
them directly. The _De natura rerum_ remained long in use; an official
price was fixed for it at the University of Paris in the reign of
Philip the Fair;[1256] and the manuscripts of it are numerous and
widespread, but as yet often unidentified because in the manuscripts
themselves it is either anonymous or ascribed to Albertus Magnus.[1257]
This attribution to Albert is found even in a manuscript of the
thirteenth century, while “Albert in the book _De naturis rerum_,” is
cited in the _Thesaurus pauperum_[1258] by Petrus Hispanus, a work
written at some time before 1277 when its author died as Pope John XXI.
But Thomas himself speaks in the _Bonum universale de apibus_[1259] of
the _De natura rerum_ as an earlier work of his, which seems decisive,
and he is also credited with the authorship of both these works in the
fourteenth century Dominican bibliography. A critical edition of the
_De natura rerum_ would be a valuable contribution to the study of
medieval learning.

[Sidenote: Life of Thomas.]

The date of the birth of Thomas in Brabant has not been fixed but
seems to lie between the years 1186 and 1210 and probably is close to
the latter date. He attended the episcopal school at Liège for eleven
years and entered the Dominican order in 1232. He states that he was in
Paris in 1238 when William of Auvergne as bishop of that city called a
meeting of all the masters in the chapter house of the Friars Preachers
to consider the abuse of plurality of benefices.[1260] In 1246 he
became subprior and lector of the Dominicans at Louvain. Kaufmann
placed the date of his death between 1263 and 1293, but if the date
1276 mentioned in his _Bonum universale de apibus_ is correct,[1261]
he was alive then. In that work he seems to refer to Aquinas and
Albertus Magnus as both still living,[1262] but the former had already
completed his studies with Albert and become a professor of theology
himself,[1263] while Albert is spoken of as if an old man.[1264] Thomas
says that he was an attendant upon his lectures “for a long while” when
he occupied the chair of theology. It does not seem, however, that this
passage implies any very close relation of discipleship between Thomas
and Albert.

[Sidenote: Character of the _De natura rerum_.]

The _De natura rerum_ is professedly a handy compilation made from
numerous other writings, as Thomas states both in his preface and
conclusion. Stimulated by the remark in Augustine’s _Christian
Doctrine_ that it would be a splendid achievement if someone should
collect in one volume data concerning the natures of things and
especially of animals, Thomas has spared neither labor, solicitude,
nor expense toward that end and has spent fourteen or fifteen years in
collecting material “scattered widely over the world in the diverse
writings” of many philosophers and authors. He has not been satisfied
to pursue his investigations merely in Gaul and Germany, although books
abound in those countries, but has gone beyond the sea and collected
the books published in England on nature, and has made excerpts from
all sources. He asks indulgence of his readers if he has omitted
anything that should be included, reminding them how great a task it
is for one man to read and digest all the varied and scattered works
of the philosophers. Nevertheless he feels that “there will scarcely
be found among the Latins so much and so varied material compressed
into a single volume.”[1265] Thomas does not directly state as his
aim, although it is perhaps involved in his citation of Augustine, the
elucidation of the properties of things mentioned in the Bible, as we
shall find that Bartholomew of England does. But he expresses a hope
that arguments for the Faith and illustrations serviceable in sermons
may be derived from his work, and there are a number of little books
in existence in manuscript which seem to be extracts from the works
of Thomas or Bartholomew intended for pulpit use.[1266] Thomas will
sometimes, moreover, like Alexander Neckam, explain the allegorical or
moral significance of natural phenomena, “but not continually, because
we have tried to avoid prolixity.” As a matter of fact, it is rarely
that he does so,[1267] although the amount of allegory or moralizing
varies somewhat in different manuscripts. These also differ as to the
fulness of the text generally and there are numerous minor differences,
certain passages being abbreviated or entirely omitted in some
manuscripts. Copies have also been discovered of a second or revised
edition in which a twentieth book has been added.[1268]

[Sidenote: Plan and contents.]

The manuscripts also differ in their arrangement of the work, but as
Thomas supplies us with a table of contents, there can be no doubt as
to the original and correct order. He begins with the parts of the
human body, devoting a chapter to each member, its ills and their cure,
and having considerable to say on the subject of obstetrics. His second
book discusses the soul (_anima_). The brief third book treats of
strange and monstrous races of men who are found chiefly in the orient
but in some cases elsewhere, hermaphrodites, for instance, in France.
Then come successive books on quadrupeds, birds, marine monsters, fish,
serpents, and worms. These six books devoted to animal life other than
man occupy considerably more than half of the entire work. Thomas turns
next to the vegetable kingdom, devoting two books to trees, of which
the second deals with aromatic and medicinal trees, and one book to
herbs. After the brief thirteenth book on fountains and other bodies of
water he comes to (14) precious stones, (15) the seven metals, (16) the
seven regions of air, (17) the sphere and planets, (18) meteorology,
and finally to the universe and four elements. These two topics of
his nineteenth book are usually discussed near the start of medieval
scientific treatises, and the reason for the order adopted by Thomas is
not very evident, unless perhaps he at first intended to write about
animals alone and then added further books on other subjects, or unless
he decided to begin with man the microcosm and end with the _mundus_
or macrocosm. If such was his plan, he does not seem to say so, and it
is hardly surprising that liberties were taken with his order in some
of the manuscripts, which begin with book sixteen and end with book
fifteen, apparently in order to start with the heavens and elements and
then consider the particular creatures of inferior creation.

[Sidenote: Chief authorities.]

As the work of Thomas is professedly a compilation, it is important
to note his authorities. At the start he mentions those to whom he
is most indebted: first, Aristotle, and then Pliny. Third comes the
_De mirabilibus_ (instead of _memorabilibus_) _mundi_ of Solinus whom
Thomas esteems both as a man of marvelous eloquence and as a diligent
scrutinizer of the natures of things. Very different this from Albertus
Magnus’ sceptical estimate of Solinus as a philosopher who told many
lies, and yet there are modern scholars who contend that Albert took
much of his natural science ready-made and without acknowledgment
from the _De natura rerum_ of his pupil[1269] Thomas. It will be
noted that Thomas names his chief authorities in chronological order.
Fourth comes Ambrose, to whose eloquent description of birds and
beasts in the _Hexaemeron_ Thomas finds it necessary, however, to make
additions; and fifth, Isidore. Sixth, and most recent in time, is the
_Oriental History_ of Jacques de Vitry to whom Thomas “was intimately
devoted.”[1270] Jacques had occupied several chapters of his _Oriental
History_[1271] with the fountains, trees and herbs, animals, serpents,
birds, and rare fish, precious stones and strange races of the orient,
and had then added a briefer list to show that the west, too, was not
without its marvels. Thomas also mentions two anonymous works, which
he appears to cite chiefly concerning animals[1272] and whose titles
he gives as _Experimentator_ and _Liber rerum_. Thomas was probably
correct in his surmise that _Experimentator_ had been compiled in
recent times and we shall meet citations of it in other authors of the
thirteenth century. But the original texts of the _Liber rerum_ and
_Experimentator_ do not seem to have survived.

[Sidenote: Embodiment of long extracts.]

Thomas mentions yet other authorities in his preface and even more
in the course of his work. His method in using his sources varies.
Sometimes he combines in one paragraph brief statements from a
number of authorities bearing on the same topic. Again he may insert
practically _verbatim_ a long extract or complete treatment of a matter
by some one author, or even an entire treatise such as the _Letter of
Alexander to Aristotle_ or Thetel’s discussion of seals in stones. Thus
in his first book on the human body he uses a work supposed to have
been written by Cleopatra to her daughter on the subject of gynecology,
and inserts in condensed form John of Spain’s translation from the
Arabic of the medical portion of _The Secret of Secrets_ supposed
to have been written by Aristotle to Alexander. His second book on
the soul follows Augustine’s treatise _De anima_. His third book on
strange and monstrous races of men includes also some account of the
Gymnosophists and Brahmans and their verbal repartee or epistolary
correspondence with Alexander of Macedon.

[Sidenote: Other citations.]

With some of the authors whom he names Thomas was almost surely not
directly acquainted. Dorotheus the Athenian, Menander, and Mago, for
instance, he mentions as “authorities according to Pliny.” He does
not seem to make as much use of Galen as might be expected, were
that author’s works already accessible in Latin translation; but he
probably had the old Latin version of Alexander Tralles, to whom he
probably refers as “_Alexander medicus_.” He probably also had seen
Basil’s _Hexaemeron_ in Latin translation, since he cites it as well
as Ambrose a number of times, and also in the preface to his _Bonum
universale de apibus_ lists “the great Basil” together with Aristotle,
Solinus, Pliny, Ambrose, and Jacques de Vitry as his authorities in the
discussion of bees in the _De natura rerum_. Many other writers he has
without much doubt read for himself: Boethius, Martianus Capella, and
Rabanus of earlier medieval Latin writers; Platearius and Constantinus
Africanus in medicine; Aldhelme[1273] and _Physiologus_ on animals;
of the Arabs Alfraganus, Albumasar, and perhaps Averroës. Michael
Scot seems to be cited in some manuscripts and not in others.[1274]
In treating of stones Thomas does not cite Marbod by name but states
that he is using the metrical version of the account which Evax, king
of Arabia, is said to have written for the emperor Nero. Thomas,
however, adds statements from other authors on stones. Like Alexander
Neckam Thomas seems to use the _Natural Questions_ of Adelard of Bath
without acknowledgment. In discussing herbs he asks the three opening
questions of Adelard’s treatise and proceeds to solve them in words
which are often identical. After this general introduction his chapters
on particular herbs are almost invariably introduced by the formula,
“As Platearius says.” Ferckel has pointed out that the greater part of
three chapters in his first book on human anatomy is drawn from the
_Philosophia_ of William of Conches,[1275] and that the twentieth book,
added in some manuscripts, is taken from the same work. Thus Thomas
makes much use of comparatively recent authorities. He also tells us
that he has not disdained to include some popular beliefs.

[Sidenote: Credulous attitude.]

Thomas of Cantimpré must be reckoned as one of the most credulous
of our authors. In his books on animals he seems of the uncritical
school of the marvelous of Solinus, Basil, Ambrose, the _Physiologus_,
and Jacques de Vitry. Seldom does he question any statement that he
finds in his authorities; indeed, he does not appear to possess the
independent knowledge of animal life to enable him to do so. He does
state that the power of the little _echinus_ to stop ships has seemed
incredible to many, but inasmuch as Ambrose, Jacques, Aristotle,
Isidore, and Basil all assert it confidently, he does not see how
there is any room left for doubt.[1276] The story of the beaver’s
self-castration in order to escape its hunters is given without
comment, and we are further told that the animal cannot live unless it
keeps its tail in the water.[1277] Thomas tells us that Isidore held
that the Sirens were really harlots who enticed men to moral ruin,
but he adds that the more general opinion is that they are irrational
marine monsters who still exist and he cites “those who testify that
they have seen the Sirens themselves.” Their song is more like that of
birds than it is like articulate speech. Sometimes, on the other hand,
Thomas prefers a miraculous or supernatural to a natural explanation
of a marvelous statement. He is not sure whether the onocentaur seen
by St. Anthony in the desert was real or a deception of the devil,
and he regards as not natural but a divine miracle the story that
the Apostle Peter had shut up in a mountain near Rome a dragon which
will live until the end of the world. He adds, however, the tale of
the two dragons found alive under the tower from the _History of the
Britons_. About all that can be said for Thomas on this score is that
he does not appear to add many new marvels of his own to the incredible
assertions of past writers.

[Sidenote: Very uncritical character of the _Bonum universale de

Thomas’s credulity seems to have increased with age, since his later
_Bonum universale de apibus_,[1278] in which bees are a mere starting
point for a disquisition on the qualities which bishops and other
clergy should possess and the introduction of innumerable anecdotes, is
a tissue of monkish tales and gossip, instances of special providence,
apparitions of the dead and of demons, and other miracles and
moralities, most of which are supposed to have occurred in Thomas’s own
time and are recounted upon hearsay. Thus we read of a son who did not
adequately support his aged father and was punished by a toad leaping
onto his face and taking such a hold that it could not be removed but
remained as a disfiguring growth. As a penance the son was sent by his
bishop through the diocese as an example and warning to others. Or
Thomas assures us that Albertus Magnus told him that at Paris the demon
appeared to him in the form of a fellow friar in an effort to call him
away from his studies, but departed by virtue of the sign of the cross.
In short, the work is on the same order as the _Dialogues_ of Gregory
the Great.

[Sidenote: A chapter on the lion.]

Thomas’s treatment of animals in general and quadrupeds in particular
can perhaps best be illustrated by a paraphrase of some one chapter
entire, for which purpose I have selected that on the lion. It will be
noted that there is no apparent logic in the order of the statements
which I have had to divide into paragraphs rather arbitrarily. It
has seemed fairer, however, to reproduce the order unchanged than to
bring together scattered statements bearing on the same point. Many
of Thomas’s statements are found also in Aristotle’s _History of
Animals_,[1279] although Thomas’s citations would indicate that some
items, at least, were derived by him from that source only indirectly.

[Sidenote: Different kinds of lions: their generation.]

The lion, as Jacques and Solinus state, is called the king of animals.
There are three kinds of lions. Many are short and have curly manes
but are weak and cowardly. Those generated by pards are ignoble and
degenerate and have no manes. The larger ones with ordinary manes are
noble and keen and without guile or suspicion. The lion’s brow and tail
reveal his intentions. His virtue resides in his breast and forefoot
and tail.[1280] And he is stout-hearted.[1281] He is so hot of nature
that he is said to have sexual intercourse at all times.[1282] The
lioness bears first five, then four, then three, then two cubs, then
only one, after which she becomes sterile.[1283] Aristotle accounts
for this by the great heat attending the generation of lions who have
solider and stronger bodies for their size than other animals. The
lioness has only two tits and not corresponding in size to her body.
This is not because she has so few cubs but because she eats only flesh
which does not readily turn into milk.

[Sidenote: Disposition and behavior.]

Solinus says that the lion is not easily enraged, but when anyone does
provoke him he shows no mercy to his adversary. On the other hand, he
spares the prostrate captive and allows those whom he meets by chance
to proceed on their way.[1284] He is fiercer to men than to women,
and to women who have had intercourse with men than to virgins and
children. Adelinus says that he sleeps with his eyes open. Pliny says
that as he walks he obliterates his tracks with his tail in order
to foil his hunters. Lions do not fight among themselves.[1285]
Solinus[1286] says that if hunted in the open, the lion will wait
for the dogs and dissimulate his fear, but in the woods, where no
one can see his cowardice, will take to his heels. When pursuing his
prey he leaps into the air in order to see farther, but not when he
is fleeing. Aristotle states that the lion and Arabian camel are the
only quadrupeds to move the right foot first. In making water the lion
lifts his foot like a dog. When the lion opens his mouth a strong odor
exudes. “The lion, very swift by fortitude, is somewhat heavy of nature
because of its slow digestion.” When running, it cannot come to a stop
the instant it wishes.

[Sidenote: Fear inspired and felt by lions.]

When about to drink, the lion draws a wide circle with its tail and
roars so that the other animals dare not cross this line.[1287] Ambrose
tells a marvel to the effect that many animals which are swift enough
to evade the lion’s onset are paralyzed by the sound of its roar. As
king of beasts the lion scorns the society of the other animals and
will not touch meat which is a day old.[1288] But it fears a scorpion.
According to the _Liber rerum_, some say that the lion is consumed
internally by its own fury and fiery blood, even when it does not have
the appearance of being angry. Solinus says that a lion in captivity
fears the sound of wheels but dreads a fire still more. Jacques says
that it is also afraid of a white cock. Pliny says that a captive lion
can be tamed by seeing its cub whipped or by watching a dog obey a man.

[Sidenote: Their diet, medicine, and mode of fighting.]

Lions are never found overladen with fat. They take food or drink on
alternate days, and fast if their digestion fails to operate. If they
devour too much flesh, they put their claws into their mouths and
extract it. The lion has a natural enmity for the wild ass. A sick
lion eats an ape, as Ambrose says, or drains a dog’s blood. Pliny tells
of a Syracusan whom a lion persistently followed until he extracted a
splinter from its foot. Another lion insisted on having a bone removed
from its teeth. Some manuscripts[1289] here insert from Pliny and
Solinus the tale of the wiles of the lioness to conceal her amours with
the pard, and the assertion that a lion wags its tail only when in good
humor. When a lion begins to move it beats the ground with its tail but
as it increases its speed lashes its back. When wounded it always takes
note of the man who inflicted the wound and goes for him. If a man has
hurled missiles at it but failed to hit it, the lion merely knocks him
down. Philosopher says that when fighting for its cubs the lion keeps
its gaze fixed on the ground so as not to be terrified by the spears of
the hunters.

[Sidenote: Medical virtues of the lion’s carcass.]

Pliny recommends eating the flesh and heart of a lion to persons
afflicted with colds. The lion’s bones are so hard that they
strike fire like flint. The hollow in its bones is very small and
rarely contains any marrow, and then only in the hip bones, as
Experimenter[1290] says. Lion’s fat is an antidote for poisons, and a
man anointed with it and wine puts to flight all beasts and snakes.
It is hotter than the fat of any other quadruped. The lion is almost
always feverish, and that with quartan fever. The effect of its roar
upon other beasts is again mentioned. When crossing hard or stony
ground the lion spares its claws since they are its weapons. Pliny
asserts that lion fat with oil of roses keeps the face white and free
from blotches. The neck bone of the lion is continuous and the flesh
there cartilaginous like a muscle, so that it cannot turn its neck, a
disability which some, the _Liber rerum_ states, ascribe incorrectly to
indignation or stolidity on the lion’s part. Aristotle says that the
internal organs and teeth of a lion are like those of a dog.

[Sidenote: Medieval and modern encyclopedias compared.]

After this account in the _De natura rerum_ the article on the lion
in the latest edition of the _Encyclopedia Britannica_ will be found
rather dull reading and scanty as concerns the behavior of lions as
well as the medicinal properties of their carcasses. Almost all of
antiquity’s interesting assertions concerning lions are omitted, no
doubt as false, but little of interest is supplied in their place. We
are told a number of things that the lion will not do: he will not
climb, he will not take more than three bounds after his prey. But even
Thomas does not say that a lion ever climbs; the notion does not seem
even to have occurred to him.[1291] Nor does Thomas assert that all
lions are brave or noble or magnanimous. On the whole, the lion does
not seem a subject upon which modern science has added vastly to our
knowledge. There were far more lions in existence in antiquity, and men
were more interested in them then, and thought at least that they knew
more about them.

[Sidenote: Examples of the zoology of the Experimenter.]

Some notion of the work ascribed by Thomas to _Experimentator_ may
be gained from Thomas’s citations of it in his chapter on the wolf.
Experimenter explains the fact stated by Ambrose, that a man who is
seen first by a wolf cannot speak, by arguing that the rays from the
wolf’s eyes dry up the _spiritus_ of human vision which in its turn
dries up the human _spiritus_ generally. Thereby the wind-pipes are
dried up and in consequence the throat so that man cannot speak.
Experimenter states further that the wolf collects willow leaves in his
mouth and makes a pile of them under which he hides in order to catch
goats. And when walking over dry leaves he licks his paws so that the
dogs will not hear him. An insulting reflection upon the canine sense
of smell!

[Sidenote: Fish, worms, and toads.]

We will pass over Thomas’s books on birds, marine monsters, fish,
and serpents, except to note in passing that Delisle credited him
with supplying some new information concerning the medieval herring
fisheries,[1292] and come to his separate treatment of “worms.”
Those with only two or four feet have a little blood, but those with
more feet than four are bloodless, because the blood is exhausted in
providing nutrition for so many feet and because the motion of so
many feet annihilates the blood. Many worms begin and end their life
in the course of a summer, since they are born rather from corruption
than from seed. Earthworms in particular are generated from pure and
unadulterated earth with no admixture of _semen_, and so furnish
illustration and proof of the virgin birth of Christ. In the opinion
of the _Liber rerum_ the toad is a worm. It is venomous and has a
pestilential glance. It feeds on earth, eating as much as it can clutch
in its forefoot, in which it is emblematic of avarice and cupidity. In
Gaul there are big toads or frogs with a voice like a horn, but they
lose their voice if taken outside of that country, typifying clergymen
who like Jonah will not preach outside of their own land. Some
manuscripts add from “Alexander”[1293] that toads are fond of the plant
salvia and that it is sometimes poisoned by contact with them. Hence it
is advised to touch a patch of salvia with rue, the dew from which is
deadly to toads. A stone found in the head of a toad, if worn by a man,
is an amulet against poison. Several toads can be generated from the
ashes of a toad.

[Sidenote: Solomon’s experiment in worms.]

In planning to build a temple of fine marbles Solomon found
embarrassing the prohibition in the Mosaic law forbidding one to cut
stones for the altar of the Lord with iron. But then he sought by
an experiment in worms what the art of man knew not. He shut up the
fledglings of an ostrich in a glass vase, so that the mother bird could
see them but could not get at them to feed them. The ostrich thereupon
flew (?) off to the desert and came back with a worm. It then broke the
glass vase by smearing it with the blood of this worm. Solomon found
this worm, called _Thamur_ or the worm of Solomon, equally efficacious
in cutting marble.

[Sidenote: Trees.]

In speaking of trees most manuscripts[1294] tell of an oak under which
Abraham dwelt and which lasted until Constantine’s time. The trees in
the Garden of Eden or terrestrial paradise are also discussed, though
of course no longer accessible. Josephus is cited concerning trees
near the Red Sea and apples of Sodom. Thomas thinks that the Sun-tree
and Moon-tree mentioned in Alexander’s letter to Aristotle had been
referred to much earlier in the benediction of Joseph in _Deuteronomy_.
As for the responses which these trees are said to have given
Alexander, Thomas has little doubt that this was the work of demons,
although some contend that it was done by divine permission through
ministering angels.

[Sidenote: Marvelous virtues of stones.]

Like Marbod, Thomas points out that, while plants and fruits receive
their virtues “through the medium of the operations of nature,” no
excess of cold or heat can be observed in stones to account for
their miraculous powers, such as conferring invisibility, and that
consequently their virtues must come direct from God. He alludes to
the belief that Solomon imprisoned demons beneath the gems in rings,
and cites the fifteenth book of _The City of God_ for the statement
that demons are attracted by various stones, herbs, woods, animals, and

[Sidenote: An adamantine mariner’s compass.]

While Thomas’s exposition of the virtues of gems is largely based upon
Marbod, in discussing _adamas_ or adamant he introduces a description
of the mariner’s compass, concerning which Marbod is silent and which
had probably not been invented or introduced in western Europe that
early, although Neckam of course alludes to it before Thomas. After
speaking of a variety of adamant which can be broken without resort to
goat’s blood but which will attract iron even away from the magnet,
Thomas adds that it also betrays the location of the star of the sea
which is called _Maria_. When sailors cannot direct their course to
port amid obscure mists, they take a needle and, after rubbing its
point on adamant, fasten it transversely on a small stick or straw
and place it in a vessel full of water. Then by carrying some adamant
around the vessel they start the needle rotating. Then the stone is
suddenly withdrawn and presently the point of the needle comes to rest
pointing towards the star in question.[1295]

[Sidenote: The mariner’s compass and magic.]

Having concluded this description of a mariner’s compass, Thomas again
follows the poem of Marbod and goes on to say that the adamant is also
said to be potent in magic arts, to make its bearer brave against the
enemy, to repel vain dreams and poison, and to benefit lunatics and
demoniacs. I mention this accidental juxtaposition of the mariner’s
compass and magic because, as we shall find in the case of Roger Bacon,
it has often been stated that those in possession of the secret of
the mariner’s compass were long afraid to reveal it for fear of being
suspected of magic, or that sailors were at first afraid to employ the
new device for the same reason. This passage in the _De natura rerum_
is as far as I know the only one in the sources that might even seem
to suggest such a connection, but Thomas does not really connect the
compass and magic at all. Later in the same book, in discussing the
magnet, he says nothing of the compass, although repeating the usual
statements that the magnet attracts iron, is used in magic, and has the
occult property of revealing an unchaste wife.

[Sidenote: Occult virtues of sculptured gems.]

After completing his account of the occult virtues of gems in their
natural state, Thomas goes on to discuss the sculpture of gems and
the additional virtues which they thereby acquire, a subject on which
Marbod had not touched. Thomas had already announced at the beginning
of his book on stones:[1296] “Moreover, at the close of this book we
have given certain opinions of the ancients which we think are neither
to be credited in every respect nor denied in every respect, and in
this we follow the glorious Augustine. The children of Israel are said
to have carved certain gems in the desert, especially carnelians, and
their work of sculpture is said to have been of such subtle skill that
no one since has ever dared attempt an imitation of it. And there is
no doubt but that figures and images of figures are engraved according
to the efficacies of the virtues of gems.” Thomas also admits that
the Israelites should have been adepts in such work, when he recalls
the divine direction which they received in the case of the twelve
gems in the breast-plate of the high priest. “Therefore it is evident
that sculptures are not found on gems without good reason. On the
other hand, I would not say that every such engraving is a token of
mystic virtue.” Later, when he comes to “the relations of the ancient
sculptors concerning the engraving of gems,” Thomas warns that,
although the form of stones is to be honored for its virtue, “yet hope
is not to be put in them but, according to what is written, in God
alone from whom is derived the virtue of stones and the dignity of
every creature.” The astrological character of such engraved images is
made manifest by the connection of many of them with the signs of the

[Sidenote: Thetel on images on stones.]

Thomas complains that the ancient authorities for such images and their
virtues are often not cited, but he had found a treatise in which the
images which the children of Israel were supposed to have engraved
in the desert were recorded by a Jewish philosopher named Thetel or
Techel.[1297] Of this treatise Thomas makes a Latin translation for
his readers, cautioning them, however, that Thetel’s opinions “are not
to be trusted on every point.” Thetel’s treatise, at least as it is
reproduced by Thomas who, however, has perhaps already used parts of it
in his preceding discussion, begins with the sentence: “When a jasper
is found and on it a man with a shield about his neck or in his hand
and a serpent beneath his feet, this has virtue against all enemies.”
It ends with the sentence: “When there is found on a stone a foaming
horse and above a man holding a scepter in his hand, this is good for
those who have power over men.” These sentences perhaps sufficiently
suggest the character of the work. It is also found separately in the
manuscripts as early as the twelfth century.[1298] Some of these vary
considerably from the text as given by Thomas. The popularity of the
treatise is also attested by the allusions in its prefaces to spurious
imitations of it.

[Sidenote: Zahel or Zaël the Israelite.]

This Thetel, Techel, or Cehel, with his seals of the children of
Israel, is presumably no other than Zethel or Zachel or Zahel or Zaël,
the Israelite or Ismaelite,[1299] some of whose astrological treatises
appeared in early printed editions,[1300] and several of whose works
are listed by Albertus Magnus in the _Speculum astronomiae_.[1301]
This Sahl ben Bisr ben Habib lived until 823 with the governor of
Chorasan and then became the astrologer of El-Hasan, vizier to the
Caliph al-Mamun. He was highly esteemed by the Byzantines, who called
him Σέχελ or τοῦ σοφωτάτου Ἰουδαίου τοῦ Σὰχλ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Πέσρ.[1302]
The translation of his works into Latin seems to have begun at an early
date, as his _Fatidica_ or _Decrees of Fate_ was translated in 1138 by
Hermann of Dalmatia,[1303] while our treatise on seals appears in a
twelfth century manuscript.

[Sidenote: Consecration of gems.]

Thomas terminates his book on stones by instructions, quite in the
tone of the blessed Hildegard, concerning the blessing of gems. As a
result of Adam’s fall every creature was corrupted and lost some of its
original virtue, and even such virtues as are left to gems are often
further corrupted by the touch of impious and impure men. Hence, just
as sinful men are renovated by baptism and penance, so gems can have
some of their lost virtues restored by a ceremony of consecration and
sanctification. They should be wrapped in linen, placed on the altar,
and the priest, after saying mass and while still wearing his sacred
robes, should offer this prayer:

“God, almighty Father, who showed Thy virtue to all through certain
insensible creatures, who bade Thy servant Moses adorn himself
among other holy vestments with twelve precious stones as a token
of judgment, and also showed the Evangelist John the heavenly city
of Jerusalem eternally constructed of the virtues which these same
stones typify, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty to deign to consecrate
and sanctify these stones by the sanctification and invocation of Thy
Name, that they may be sanctified and consecrated, and may recover the
efficacious virtues with which the experience of wise men proves Thee
to have endowed them, so that whatever persons may wear them, may feel
Thy virtue present through them and may deserve to receive the gifts of
Thy grace and the protection of Thy virtue, through Jesus, Thy Son, in
whom all sanctification consists, who lives with Thee, and reigns as
God through infinite successions of cycles.”[1304]

[Sidenote: The seven metals: modern plumbing.]

In his book on the seven metals, namely, gold, electrum, silver,
copper, lead, tin, and iron, Thomas alludes to transmutation in
speaking of copper and cites a work of alchemy ascribed to Aristotle,
_The Light of Lights (De lumine luminum)_, for the assertion that
the best gold is that made from a boy’s urine and brass. This
statement is to be understood, however, only of the color of the
gold and not of the substance. In his discussion of lead, tin, and
iron Thomas cites no authorities except that once he remarks, “as
the philosopher says.”[1305] Perhaps therefore we have here what is
largely a contribution of his own. At any rate it seems to include the
first mention of the invention of modern plumbing.[1306] Tin, Thomas
tells us, rusts out easily if it lies long in water. Therefore the
underground pipes of aqueducts have long been made of lead, but they
used to be joined with tin, but in “modern times” human art has thought
out a method of uniting them with hot molten lead. For while tin will
not remain solid for long, “lead lasts forever underground.” Thomas
goes on to say that lead has the peculiar property among the metals
of always increasing in size. Like Hildegard, he also mentions steel,
which he says is hardened by many tensions so that it surpasses iron in
virtue. He further tells of an oriental iron[1307] which is very good
for cutting and is fusible like copper or silver but not ductile like
the iron in other parts of the world.

[Sidenote: The seven regions of the air.]

The discussion in the _De natura rerum_ of the seven regions of the
air and their humors, namely, dew, snow, hail, rain, “laudanum,”
manna and honey, reminds one of Michael Scot’s treatment of the same
subject,[1308] but seems to be drawn from a common source rather than
directly copied from it. Thomas states that Aristotle has treated more
fully of these humors in his _Meteorology_, but in reality Aristotle
says nothing of the last three named in the _Meteorology_, although in
the _History of Animals_ he says that honey is distilled from the air
by the stars. Thomas draws the same distinction as Michael Scot had
made between natural honey and the artificial sort made by bees. He is
willing to grant that the manna upon which the children of Israel lived
was created in this region of the sky, although especially prepared for
them by a divine miracle.

[Sidenote: Astrological.]

The astrological passages of the _De natura rerum_ are neither striking
nor novel. In his books on animals Thomas had stated that various
animal substances such as the brains of wolves or the livers of mice
vary in size with the waxing and waning of the moon. He denies that the
planets possess sense or that their movements are voluntary, but he
quotes Pliny’s statement that by the influence of Venus all things on
earth are generated, and states the influence of each planet when it is
in the ascendant. Under Mars men become choleric and bellicose. Jupiter
is such a source of safety and good health that Martianus declared that
were Jupiter the only planet, men would be immortal. Such, however,
was not the Creator’s will. The word “Jupiter” is not without reason
derived from _iubens_ and _pater_, since during the ascension of this
planet all terrestrial things are born. For unless seeds were severed
from their beginnings by some occult virtue, they would always remain
immovable in the state in which they were created. God accordingly put
such power in the spheres of the stars and especially the planets that
created things might obey his command to increase and multiply. They
return, however, to the earth from which they came; the processes of
nature are unceasingly repeated; and, as Solomon said, there is nothing
new under the sun. Thomas therefore reaches the usual conclusion that
except for human free will and special manifestations of divine will,
all nature is placed by God under the rule of the stars. The influence
of sun and moon is manifest, and “why should we not with entire reason
believe the same of the other planets?”

[Sidenote: Elements and spirits.]

The nineteenth book opens with a discussion of the universe and
creation and closes with a discussion of the four elements. Fire has
eight effects expressed in the couplet:

    _Destruit, emollit, restringit, consolidatque;_
    _Clarificat, terret, accendit, letificatque._

Thomas illustrates each of these effects by a verse of Scripture. Fire
also has six properties, likewise expressed in a couplet:

    _Mobilis et siccus mundusque favilla tenetur;_
    _Crescit et accendit[1309] sed aqua modica removetur._

Concerning these properties also Thomas quotes Scripture. He then
treats briefly of that purest fire which is above the seven regions of
the air. Demons dwell in the air “awaiting with torments the judgment
day.”[1310] When they appear to men, they assume bodies from that
part of the air which is densest and most mixed with the other three
elements. But angels coming as messengers to mankind assume bodies in
the region of pure fire extending from the sphere of the moon to the

[Sidenote: Other works incorrectly ascribed to Thomas of Cantimpré.]

In the life of Albertus Magnus written by Peter of Prussia toward the
end of the fifteenth century[1311] it is stated on the authority of
the chronicle of Brother Jacobus de Zuzato, master of theology, that
Thomas of Cantimpré translated word for word from Greek into Latin
“all the books of Aristotle in rational, natural, and moral philosophy
and metaphysics which we now use in the schools,[1312] and this at the
instance of Saint Thomas of Aquinas, for in Albert’s time all commonly
used the old translation.”[1313] The task of translating Aristotle
was scarcely one for which Thomas of Cantimpré was qualified, and his
name almost never appears in the extant manuscripts of translations of
Aristotle.[1314] Peter of Prussia and his source have probably confused
William of Moerbeke with Thomas of Cantimpré, as they both came from
Brabant, and their names are juxtaposed in a fourteenth century list
of writings by Dominicans, where, however, William is said to have
“translated all the books of natural and moral philosophy from Greek
into Latin at the instance of brother Thomas.”[1315] Because of Thomas
of Cantimpré’s chapters on gynecology, the _De secretis mulierum_
usually ascribed to Albertus Magnus has sometimes been attributed to
him, but Ferckel denies this.[1316]


[1254] Only extracts of the _De natura rerum_ have been printed (by J.
B. Pitra, _Spicilegium Solesmense_, III, and in HL and _Ferckel_ as
noted below). Some discussion of the MSS and a partial list of them
will be found in Appendix I to this chapter. I have chiefly used MSS
Royal 12-E-XVII, 13th century; Royal 12-F-VI, 14th century; Egerton
1984, 13th century, fols. 34-145; Arundel 323, 13th century, fols.
1-98; and Arundel 164, 15th century, at the British Museum; and BN
347B and 523A at Paris. As any topic to which a chapter is devoted
can be found without much difficulty in these MSS, which are divided
into books and chapters and equipped with tables of contents, I shall
usually not take the time and space to make specific citations by folio
in the ensuing chapter.

Of Thomas’s _Bonum universale de apibus_ I have used the 1516 edition.

Some books and articles on Thomas and his natural science are: Bormans,
“Thomas de Cantimpré indiqué comme une des sources où Albert le
Grand et surtout Maerlant ont puisé les matériaux de leur écrits sur
l’histoire naturelle”; in _Bulletins de l’Acad. roy. des Sciences de
Belgique_, XIX, 132-59, Brussels, 1852.

Carus, _Geschichte der Zoologie_, Munich, 1872, pp. 211-33.

HL 30 (1888) 365-84, Delisle, “La Nature des Choses, par Thomas de
Cantimpré,” supplementing and correcting the earlier account by Daunou
in HL 19 (1838) 177-84, where the _De natura rerum_ had been called an
anonymous work known only from Vincent of Beauvais’ citation of it.

A. Kaufmann, _Thomas von Cantimpré_, Cologne, 1899, 137 pp., an
unfinished work published posthumously without a projected section on
Thomas’s natural science, which the author had scarcely begun.

Stadler, “Albertus Magnus, Thomas von Cantimpré, und Vincent von
Beauvais,” in _Natur und Kultur_, IV, 86-90, Munich, 1906.

C. Ferckel, _Die Gynäkologie des Thomas von Brabant, ausgewählte
Kapitel aus Buch I de naturis rerum beendet um 1240_, Munich, 1912 (in
G. Klein, _Alte Meister d. Medizin u. Naturkunde_).

[1255] V. Rose (1875), pp. 335, 340.

[1256] HL 30: 380.

[1257] Sometimes the work concludes with the extraordinary _Explicit_,
“the book of Lucius Annisius Seneca of Cordova, disciple of Fortinus
the Stoic, _De naturis rerum_,” as in Arundel 323.

[1258] III, 16.

[1259] In the preface.

[1260] _Bonum universale de apibus_, I, 19, vii.

[1261] _Ibid._, II, 57, lix. At I, 5, ii, 1252 is given as the date of
the “recent” murder of a Dominican by heretics at Verona; at II, 57,
iii, great winds and thunders are mentioned, which frightened men in
Germany nearly out of their wits in 1256.

[1262] Aquinas died in 1274, Albert in 1280.

[1263] _Bonum universale de apibus_, I, 20, xi.

[1264] _Ibid._, II, 57, li, “venerabilis ille frater ordinis
predicatorum magister Albertus.”

[1265] From this statement one might infer either that Bartholomew’s
book was not yet published or that Thomas did not know of it.

[1266] HL 30: 384.

[1267] As HL 30: 374-5 has already noted.

[1268] HL 30: 383 mentions three such MSS; see also CLM 6908, where,
however, the three last books are missing; Lincoln College 57, 13th
century; CU Trinity 1058, 13th century; Wolfenbüttel 4499, 14th century.

[1269] As has been said above, it is doubtful if there was any close
relation of master and disciple between Albert and Thomas.

[1270] HL 30: 377.

[1271] Jacobus de Vitriaco, _libri duo ... prior Orientalis ... alter
Occidentalis Historiae_, 1597, _Hist. Orient._ caps. 85-92.

[1272] _Experimentator_, however, is also cited concerning the
properties of air.

[1273] Thomas’s extracts from Adhelmus were printed by Pitra (1855)
III, 425-7. Concerning St. Aldhelm see above, chapter 27, page 636.

[1274] Michael Scot is cited concerning silk-worms and gourds in
Egerton 1984, fols. 100r and 121r, and, judging from the catalogue
notice, also in Corpus Christi 221, but not in the corresponding
passages in either Royal 12-E-XVII or 12-F-VI. The _Histoire
Littéraire_, however, gives a citation of Michael’s translation of
Aristotle’s _History of Animals_ from three Paris MSS.

[1275] Ferckel (1912), p. 4, “und tatsächlich ist fast das ganze
Kapitel _De Impregnatione_ ein Teil des folgenden und die erste
grössere Hälfte des Kapitels 73 fast wörtlich der _Philosophia_ des
Wilhelm von Conches entnommen.”

[1276] “Tanta fides in hoc auctorum est et tanta concordia ut nulli
umquam de hoc dubitare relinquatur.”

[1277] In the condensed version of Egerton 1984 and Arundel 323 the
castration story is omitted, but the other statement is made.

[1278] A fuller form of the title is: _Liber apum aut de apibus
mysticis sive de proprietatibus apum seu universale bonum tractans de
prelatis et subditis ubique sparsim exemplis notabilibus_.

[1279] See especially _Historia animalium_, VI, 31; VIII, 5, IX, 44.

[1280] In Egerton 1984 and Arundel 323 this statement occurs later and
is ascribed to “Alexander”. These MSS add that in its fore-quarters the
lion is of a hot nature, in the hind-quarters cold, like the Sun in Leo.

[1281] “Firmitas autem in pectore est.”

[1282] Egerton 1984, “to be feverish all the time.”

[1283] EB, 11th edition, “The number of cubs at a birth is from two to
four, usually three.”

[1284] _Ibid._ “The lion ... seldom attacks his prey openly, unless
compelled by extreme hunger.... He appears ... as a general rule only
to kill when hungry or attacked, and not for the mere pleasure of
killing, as with some other carnivorous animals.”

[1285] EB, “Though not strictly gregarious, lions appear to be sociable
towards their own species.”

[1286] Also Aristotle, IX, 44.

[1287] EB, 11th edition, “On no occasions are their voices to be heard
in such perfection, or so intensely powerful, as when two or three
troops of strange lions approach a fountain to drink at the same time.”

[1288] _Ibid._ “He, moreover, by no means limits himself to animals of
his own killing, but, according to Selous, often prefers eating game
that has been killed by man, even when not very fresh, to taking the
trouble to catch an animal himself.”

[1289] For instance, I found the passage in Royal 12-E-XVII, but not in
Royal 12-F-VI.

[1290] Aristotle, instead of _Experimentator_, in Egerton 1984 and
Arundel 323. Of the small amount of marrow in lions’ bones Aristotle
treats twice, _Historia animalium_ III, 7 and 20.

[1291] I am told, however, that in a recent moving picture lions are
seen climbing trees to escape from dogs.

[1292] HL 30: 367.

[1293] Egerton 1984 and Arundel 323.

[1294] Omitted in the two MSS mentioned in the preceding note.

[1295] Compare the similar description of the _magnetised_ needle in
Neckam, _De naturis rerum_, II, 98 (RS 34: 183).

[1296] HL 30: 370 does not mention this introductory passage but quotes
a somewhat similar passage which occurs later on. In fact, Thomas makes
practically the same statement at least three times in the course of
his fourteenth book.

[1297] “_Rechel_” in Royal 12-F-VI, fols. 106-7. Printed by Pitra
(1855) III, 335-7, as “Cethel aut veterum Judaeorum Physiologorum de
lapidibus sententiae.”

[1298] A further discussion of them will be found in Appendix II to
this chapter.

[1299] Steinschneider (1906) 54-5, 103-4, fails to include our treatise
on seals in his mentions of Zaël’s works; but in BN 16204, 13th
century, the _Seals_ of Theel is immediately preceded by two treatises
of “Zehel the Israelite” on interrogations and elections.

[1300] In the astrological miscellany of Petrus Liechtenstein,
Basel, 1551, fols. 122-7, _Introductorium de principiis judiciorum_;
127-38, _De interrogationibus_; 138-41, _De electionibus_; 141-2, _De
significatione temporis ad judicia_. Steinschneider mentions only the
_Elections_ as printed in 1551, but also notes a 1533 edition of it and
1493 and 1519 editions of all these treatises.

[1301] In cap. 6, _Introductio_, “Scito quod signa sunt duodecim”; in
cap. 9, _Judicia Arabum_, “Cum interrogatus fueris”; _De significatione
temporis_, “Et scito quod tempore excitat motus”; in cap. 10, _Liber
electionis_, “Omnes concordati sunt”; _Quinquaginta praeceptorum_,
“Scito quod significata lunae.”

[1302] CCAG V, 3, 98-106.

[1303] Steinschneider (1905), p. 34, names Hermann the Dalmatian as
translator and notes CUL 2022, 15th century, fols. 102r-115v, Hermanni
secundi translatio. “Explicit Fatidica Ben Bixir Caldei....,” but the
_Gi_ in the _Explicit_ of the following MS might stand for _Gerardi_
and indicate Gerard of Cremona, who would, it is true, have been but
twenty-four in 1138: Digby 114, 14th century, fols. 176-99, “Explicit
fetidica Zael Banbinxeir Caldei. Translacio hec mam. Gi. astronomie
libri anno Domini 1138, 3 kal. Octobris translatus (_sic_) est.”

Some other MSS which Steinschneider does not mention are: Harleian 80;
Sloane 2030, 12-13th century, fols. 41-76; Amplon. Quarto 361, 14th
century, fols. 96-113, Chehelbenbis Israelite; and perhaps Sloane 3847,
17th century, fols. 101-12, Zebel alias Zoel, liber imaginum, but more
probably this is the Pseudo-Zebel found in Berlin 965, 16th century,
fols. 1-63, and printed at Prague, 1592, “Incipit zebelis sapientis
arabum de interpretatione diversorum eventuum secundum lunam in 12
signis zodiaci.”

[1304] This consecration of gems also follows Techel’s treatise on
seals in Ashmole 1471, fol. 67v, while in Canon. Misc. 285 the work of
Thetel is preceded at fol. 36v by _De consecratione lapidum_, and at
fol. 38 by _De modo praecipuos quosdam lapides consecrandi_.

[1305] Or, in one MS, “sicut dicunt phisici.”

[1306] This fact has already been noted by the HL.

[1307] Called _andena_ in one MS, and _alidea_ in another.

[1308] See above, chapter 51, page 324.

[1309] Or perhaps “ascendit.”

[1310] Compare Bede, _De natura rerum_, cap. 25.

[1311] Petrus de Prussia, _Vita B. Alberti Magni_, (1621), p. 294.

[1312] Trithemius, _De script, eccles._ probably has Peter and Jacobus
in mind when he states that some writers say that Thomas of Cantimpré
knew Greek and translated the works of Aristotle used in the schools.

[1313] As Albert lived six years beyond Aquinas, this would indicate
that his Aristotelian treatises were completed early in life. Yet some
accuse him of using Thomas’s _De natura rerum_ in these works.

[1314] Additional 17345, late 13th century, imperfect, ascribes the
_antiqua translatio_ of the fourteen books of Metaphysics to him, but
is the only such MS I know of.

[1315] One wonders if this can mean _Thomas Brabantinus_, whose name
immediately follows that of _Wilhelmus Brabantinus_ in the list, rather
than Thomas Aquinas.

[1316] Ferckel (1912), pp. 1-2, 10.



Of the half dozen or so MSS which I have examined Egerton 1984, 13th
century, fols. 34-145, and Arundel 323, 13th century, fols. 1-98,
present a different version from the others, arranged in a different
order and somewhat more condensed, although sometimes inserting points
omitted in the other MSS, as has already been illustrated in the text
in the reproduction of the chapter on the lion. These two MSS open
with what is usually the 16th book on the seven regions of the air and
continue with the subjects of the heavens and elements to which books
17-19 are usually devoted. Then, omitting the themes of the usual first
three books, they consider quadrupeds (Egerton 1984, fol. 51v; Arundel
323, fol. 33r), other animals, and herbs. Then follow precious stones
and metals, after instead of before which comes a truncated version of
the book on fountains (Egerton 1984, fol. 142v; Arundel 323, fol. 91r).
Next comes a treatment of parts of the human body which roughly answers
to Thomas’s first book but omits entirely the chapters dealing with
generation and obstetrics. Indeed in Egerton 1984 the text breaks off
at fol. 145v in the midst of the chapter on teeth and in the middle of
a word, and then ends on the upper part of fol. 146r with the closing
portion of the chapter _De anchis_ and the chapter on _Spondilia_.
Arundel 323 continues as far as the 44th chapter on the spleen. It then
at fol. 98r introduces a brief discussion of geography (_Incipiunt
Divisiones Provinciarum_), at the close of which we read, “Explicit
liber lucii annisii Senece Cordubensis fortini stoyci discipuli
De naturis rerum.” The text, however, goes on to fol. 103v with a
discussion of diseases, remedies, and astrological medicine. Neither
this nor the list of provinces forms a part of the _De natura rerum_ as
contained in Royal 12-E-XVII and 12-F-VI.

As the _Histoire Littéraire de la France_ listed only MSS of the _De
natura rerum_ at Paris and in a few other continental libraries, and as
the authorship of Thomas of Cantimpré is seldom recognized in the MSS
catalogues, I append a list of MSS in British and continental libraries
which are not noted in the _Histoire Littéraire_. No doubt the list
is still very incomplete. C. Ferckel (1912), pp. 11-18 gives a fuller
list than that in the _Histoire Littéraire_, but only those MSS which
are marked with an asterisk in the following list have been noted by

British Museum

 Egerton 1984, 13th century, described above.

 Royal 12-E-XVII, 13th century.

 Royal 12-F-VI, 14th century, fols. 3-119.

 *Arundel 323, perhaps 13th century, described above.

 *Arundel 142, 15th century, fols. 1-93.

 The following contain only portions of the work:

 *Arundel 298, perhaps 13th century, fols. 1-83, Books 3-9.

 *Arundel 164, 15th century, fols. 5-58, preface and four

 Sloane 2428, 13th century, 9 fols., Book 14 on gems.

 Sloane 405, 15th century, fols. 65-107, “De natura rerum
   liber primus,” attributed to Albertus Magnus but really
   the prologue of Thomas and most of his first book on

At Oxford

 Selden supra 75 (Bernard 3463), early 14th century, fols.
   1r-231v, de naturis rerum secundum diversos philosophos.
   In 1919 the proof sheets for the new Summary Catalogue of
   Bodleian MSS still stated: “The author, who wrote while
   Jacobus de Vitriaco was bishop of Tusculum (1228-44: fol.
   1v), appears to be unknown.”

 *Canon. Misc. 356, 14th century, Anon. De naturis rerum.

 Corpus Christi 221, 14th century, fol. 2-. Liber in quo
   tractatus de motu coeli, de elementis, de mari, de
   propriis mirabilibus cuiuslibet terrae, de lapidibus
   pretiosis, de metallis, de fructibus, de avibus, de
   bestiis, etc.

 *Corpus Christi 274, 15th century, fol. 6-, Anon, de naturis

 Lincoln College 57, 13th century, Anon, de proprietatibus
   rerum. This is the version in 20 books.

At Cambridge

 Trinity 1058, 13th century, well-written, the version in 20
   books, ending at fol. 186v.

James fails to rectify the attribution of the work to Albertus Magnus
in both the following MSS:

 Gonville and Caius 414, 13th century, fols. 1-161v.

 Gonville and Caius 35, 15th century, fols. 1-137.

At Vienna

 Vienna 2357, 14th century, fols. 1-46, Lucretius de naturis

 Vienna 5371, 15th century, fols. 1-100r, Opus de rerum

At Munich

 CLM 326, 14th century, 95 fols. The catalogue states, “Liber
   Thomae Cantipr. vel. Conradi Megenb. similis, sed multo
   amplior”; but its preceding description of the contents is
   sufficient to identify the work as Thomas of Cantimpré’s.

 CLM 2655, 13th century, fols. 1-94, de naturis rerum

 CLM 3206, 13-14th century, fols. 1-145, de naturis rerum

 CLM 6908, 13th century, fols. 1-78, Tractatus de naturis
   animalium in xx libros divisus quorum tres extremi desunt.

 CLM 8439, 15th century, fols. 84-144, Alberti Magni de
   naturis rerum.

 CLM 11481, anno 1390, de naturis rerum.

 CLM 13582, 14th century, Thomae Cantipratensis liber de
   natura rerum.

 CLM 14340, 15th century, Thomae de Catimprato de naturis seu
   proprietatibus rerum, in codice tributus Alberto Magno.

 CLM 21008, 14th century, De proprietatibus rerum.

 CLM 23879, 15th century, fols. 1-93, de natura rerum.

 CLM 27006, anno 1409, fols. 1-170, de natura rerum.


 *Wolfenbüttel 4499, 14th century, the version in 20 books,
   catalogued by Heinemann as anonymous.

 Dôle 173-80, 15th century, fols. 1-189, “De secretis nature,
   Alberti Magni.”

 S. Marco XII-65, 15th century, ascribed to Albert,
   but opening, “Septem sunt regiones aeris, ut dicunt

 * Florence, Ashburnham 115, 15th century, “Expliciunt
   Capitula de naturis Lucii Anney Senece Cordubensis,
   Fortini Stoyci discipuli.”



For the Berlin MS I follow the catalogue description by V. Rose. I have
examined personally the two Paris MSS and some of those at Oxford.

Berlin 956, 12th century, fol. 22, what Rose calls the “very peculiar
original text.” “Hic incipit liber sigillorum filiorum israel quem
fecerunt in deserto. Cum pluribus libris nobilibus magne auctoritatis
et nominis vigilante animo atque perspicaci, fratres karissimi,
studeamus,” etc., which may be translated: “Here begins the books
of seals of the children of Israel which they made in the desert.
Although, dearest brothers, we have studied many noble books of great
authority and name with vigilant and perspicacious mind, we have not
found any book so dear and precious as this is. For this is that great
and secret precious book of seals of Cehel the Israelite, which the
children of Israel made in the desert after their exodus from Egypt
according to the course and motion of the stars. And because many false
books are made in imitation of this, in order that we may perfectly
know the virtue of these seals we have noted them down in this little

BN 8454, 12-13th century, fols. 65v-66r, Liber magnus et secretus
sigillorum Cehel. The _Incipit_ and text closely resemble Digby 79,
except that the name is spelled “Cehel” and that no mention is made of
the planets.

BN 16204, 13th century, pp. 500-7. Has the same _Incipit_ as BN 8454
and Digby 79, except that the name is spelled “Theel” and that the last
clause of the _Incipit_, “et quia multi ... subnotavimus” (for which
see the description of Digby 79 below) is omitted. On the other hand,
we have the following opening paragraph of text which is not found in
BN 8454: “I, Theel, one of the sons of the children of Israel, who
after the transit of the Red Sea ate manna in the wilderness and drank
water from the rock and saw innumerable miracles with my own eyes, and
heard why from the twelve tribes twelve precious stones are worn by
order of the Lord on Aaron’s vestments. And I myself chose them. And
besides this selection I have inspected the engraving of gems made, as
the divine Nature willed, according to the movement of the signs and
the courses of the planets. And I have learned the virtues of many. And
I am called Theel (or rather, Cheel) for this reason, because I have
written of sealing (_de celatione_), that is, concerning the sculpture
of gems, and not because I have concealed and kept to myself what God
and nature have produced, for I write to you, my posterity, in order
that through these few brief words many seals may be known in the
nature of stones.”

This MS then has at pp. 500-2 the same text as BN 8454 except that
the names of the planets are inserted before the first seven seals.
At p. 502 the text as given in BN 8454 ends with the words, “Hoc
autem sigillum fertur habuisse galienus,” but the listing of seals
continues in BN 16204 until the top of p. 507, where the work of Haly
on elections begins.

Digby 79, 13th century, fols. 178v-180, opens, “In nomine Domini nostri
Jesu Christi. Hic est liber preciosus magnus atque secretus sigillorum
Eethel quem fecerunt filii Israel in deserto post exitum ab Egipto
secundum motus et cursus siderum, et quia multi ad similitudinem huius
falso facti sunt, in hoc libello subnotavimus.” This version differs
from that of Thomas of Cantimpré, since its first seal is made under
the planet Mercury and is an image of a man seated on a plow. Then
“under Mars” comes a fuller description of what is the first seal in
Thomas’s version.

Digby 193, 14th century, fol. 30, closely resembles Digby 79, except
that the name is spelled “Cethel.”

Ashmole 1471, late 14th century, fols. 65v-67v, closely resembles
Thomas of Cantimpré’s text. “Incipit liber Techel. Liber Techel nomine
editus de sculpturis lapidum a filiis Israel eo tempore quo per
desertum transierunt, et transierunt ut intrarent terram promissionis:
propterea hii lapides leguntur fuisse assignati in templo Appollonis
a rege Persarum cum consilio omnium astrologorum tam Egiptiorum quam
Caldeorum secundum cursum signorum et cursum planetarum.” Next ensue
the same preliminary observations that Thomas makes; the text of Techel
proper begins only at fol. 66v.

Canon. Misc. 285, 15th century, fol. 40, anon., “In nomine dei Amen;
Pretiosissimus liber sigillorum quem filii Israel post exitum....”

Corpus Christi 221, 14th century, fol. 55.

Selden 3464 (Bernard), #9.

CUL 1391, 14th century, fols. 204v-207v, “Liber magnus de sigillis
lapidum et de virtutibus eorum quem fecerunt Filii Israelis in
Deserto.” Like BN 8454 it closes, “hoc sigillum fertur habuisse



 Bartholomew on the character of his book--Question of its
 date--Who are the most recent authors cited in it?--How far
 are its citations first-hand?--Its medieval currency--Not
 a mere compilation nor limited to Biblical topics--The
 nature of demons--Psychology and physiology--Vision and
 perspective--Medieval domestic science--The medieval
 domestic servant--Medieval boys--Medieval girls--A
 medieval dinner--Dreams and their interpretation--Medical
 advice--Poisons--The waters above the firmament--The
 empyrean heaven: Rabanus--Alexander of Hales--Aristotelian
 theory of one heaven--As the basis of astrology--Properties
 and effects of the signs and planets--Bartholomew
 illustrates the general medieval acceptance of
 astrology--Medieval divisions of the day and hour--Form
 and matter; fire and coal--Air and its creatures--The
 swallow, swallow-stone, and swallow-wort--The hoopoe and
 magic--Water and fish--Jorath on whales--Geography; physical
 and political--Also economic--Medieval boundaries--France
 in the thirteenth century--Brittany and the British
 Isles--A geography by Herodotus--Two passages about
 magic--Bartholomew and Arnold of Saxony on stones--Citations
 by Arnold of Saxony and Bartholomew--Virtues of
 animals--_Physiologus_--Color, odor, savor, liquor.

[Sidenote: Bartholomew on the character of his book.]

_On the Properties of Things_ by Bartholomew of England[1317] is, as
has been said in a previous chapter, a work of the same sort as those
on the natures of things by his earlier fellow-countryman, Alexander
of Neckam, and his contemporary of Brabant, Thomas of Cantimpré.
Bartholomew himself clearly states the character, purpose, and scope of
his work both at its beginning and again in closing. It is primarily a
brief compilation of passages on the natures and properties of things,
which are scattered through the works both of the saints and the
philosophers, with the intent of making plainer the enigmas which the
Holy Scriptures conceal under the symbols and figures of the properties
of natural and artificial objects. Bartholomew further speaks modestly
of his work as an elementary treatise, text-book, or work of reference
for the benefit of “young scholars and the general reader (_simplices
et parvuli_) who because of the infinite number of books cannot look
up the properties of the objects of which Scripture treats, nor are
they able to find quickly even a superficial treatment of what they
are after.”[1318] Bartholomew’s book is therefore “a simple and rude”
compilation, but he hopes that it may prove useful to persons who, like
himself, are not advanced scholars. But after mastering this elementary
treatise, they should proceed to more subtle and specialized works. And
if they think that anything should be added to what he has given, let
them add it. From the tone of these remarks compared to those of Thomas
of Cantimpré one would infer that the number of available books and
also the amount of available knowledge had considerably increased since
Thomas wrote. Yet at the most Bartholomew cannot have written very
many years later than Thomas, and it is most likely that their books
appeared almost simultaneously.

[Sidenote: Question of its date.]

If Bartholomew’s last sentence is interpreted as an open invitation to
his readers to issue revised editions of the book or at least add to
their own copies further extracts from the writings of the saints and
the philosophers, we shall feel that it is rather risky to attempt to
determine the date of the first appearance of the _De proprietatibus
rerum_ from the date of the latest works cited in our present copies.
But all the manuscripts seem to be essentially alike regardless of
date, and the printed edition seems to vary little from the text of
the earliest manuscripts. To assist us in determining when Bartholomew
lived and wrote we have a request from the General of the Franciscan
Order in 1230 asking the French provincial to send to Magdeburg in
Saxony Brother Bartholomaeus Anglicus to act as lecturer there.[1319]
Salimbene, writing in 1284, cites a passage from Bartholomew concerning
elephants and looks back upon him as a great clerk who lectured on
the whole Bible in course at Paris.[1320] Bartholomew speaks of the
inhabitants of Livonia as having been forced by the Germans from the
cult of demons to the Faith of one God, and states that by divine grace
and the cooperation of the Germans they are now believed to be freed
from their former errors.[1321] But since the conquest of Livonia began
as early as 1202, this passage does not serve to date Bartholomew’s
work very definitely.

[Sidenote: Who are the most recent authors cited in it?]

It has already been remarked by the _Histoire Littéraire de la France_
that in the bibliography at the close of his work Bartholomew mentions
no writer of later date than the early thirteenth century.[1322] As
Bartholomew himself states, however, he uses “many other” authorities
than those given in the list, and other names are found sprinkled
through his text. In the printed edition of 1488 the _Speculum
naturale_ of Vincent of Beauvais, which was not written until 1250,
is cited,[1323] but this mention is found in the last sentence
of a chapter and may be pretty certainly regarded as a later
interpolation.[1324] In citing commentaries upon the works of Aristotle
the printed text confuses the abbreviations _Albu._, _Alber._, and
_Alfre._ or _Alur._, standing respectively for Albumasar, Albertus
Magnus, and Aluredus or Alfred of England who alone is listed in
Bartholomew’s bibliography. There seems to be no certain citation of
Albert. If Bartholomew had read Albert’s sharp criticism of Jorath,
he perhaps would not have made use of that author. The bibliography
includes the names of Michael Scot who was dead by 1235 and of Robert
of Lincoln, by whom Grosseteste must be meant, who was born about
1175, became bishop of Lincoln in 1235, and died in 1253. A Gilbertus
mentioned in the bibliography may be either the medical writer, Gilbert
of England, whose own date is somewhat uncertain, or a corruption for
Gerbert. These three writers are seldom, if ever, cited by name in the
text of Bartholomew. But he does cite Alexander of Hales[1325] who died
in 1245. On the whole it seems possible that Bartholomew wrote his work
as early as 1230.

[Sidenote: How far are its citations first-hand?]

The _Histoire Littéraire_ asserts that “Bartholomew surely was not
acquainted with all the authors, true or supposititious, whom he is
pleased to enumerate,” but it gives no grounds except the list itself
for this sceptical attitude. It is true that in the case of a few
authorities in his list, such as Scipio Africanus, Ninus Delphicus,
and Epicurus, it would have been as difficult to find any works by
them then as now. But I believe that Bartholomew was a wide reader
and acquainted with the greater part of the books and authors that
he cites. Modern writers concerning medieval learning have too often
proceeded upon the gratuitous assumption that medieval writers seldom
were directly acquainted with the authorities which they cite. But
one suspects that those who have assumed this were none too well
acquainted themselves either with the works citing or cited. And
why should medieval scholars take their citations at second hand?
The original works were fairly accessible; the earliest manuscripts
we have of them are almost invariably medieval, and probably they
had many, many more copies that are now destroyed, and possibly
some originals that are now forever lost. As for Bartholomew, his
citations are so numerous, so varied, so specific that they must be
largely first-hand.[1326] Obviously he did not spare himself trouble
in making a book to save others trouble. Bartholomew also seems to be
scrupulously honest in his citations. For instance, Pythagoras is cited
but once in the _Etymologies_ of Isidore,[1327] and when Bartholomew
makes use of this passage, he gives both Pythagoras and Isidore
credit.[1328] It is therefore only fair to Bartholomew to admit that,
had his citation of Pythagoras in _The Book of the Romans_ been drawn
from any third author, he would have given him credit too. Bartholomew
cites Pliny’s _Natural History_ by book and chapter and is evidently
directly acquainted with it. On the whole, I am inclined to think that
medieval writers had read quite as much of the works listed in their
bibliographies as modern writers have of those listed in _theirs_.

[Sidenote: Its medieval currency.]

In the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris alone there are eighteen
manuscripts of the _De proprietatibus rerum_, chiefly of the late
thirteenth and early fourteenth century, and the _Histoire Littéraire_
tells us that its title appears in a catalogue of the books which
the medieval booksellers of Paris rented to the students at that
university.[1329] The work also occurs with frequency in the manuscript
collections of England, Germany, and Italy. Hain’s list of fourteen
printed editions of it before 1500 is incomplete, and the British
Museum catalogue of books printed in Germany alone in the fifteenth
century mentions nine editions. It was translated into French under
Charles V in the fourteenth century, and also appeared in English,
Spanish, and Dutch versions, all three of which were printed at the
end of the fifteenth century. These facts indicate that the work was,
and continued until the sixteenth century to be, widely used as a
text-book, and suggest the further thought that such widely multiplied
and disseminated elementary and popular works are more likely to
have survived the stagnant and destructive period of the Black Death
and Hundred Years War and to have come down to us than are the more
advanced, original, and elaborate works of the thirteenth century. Be
that as it may, we must not look upon the _De proprietatibus rerum_ as
a specimen of the most advanced medieval scholarship, but rather as an
illustration of the rough general knowledge which every person with any
pretense to culture was then supposed to possess. At the same time,
the large number of authorities cited shows how much wider reading a
medieval student might do.

[Sidenote: Not a mere compilation nor limited to Biblical topics.]

On the other hand, we must not be misled by Bartholomew’s humble tone
of self-depreciation nor even by his assertion, repeated at the close
as well as the opening of his work, that he presents “little or nothing
of my own, but simply the words of the saints and the sayings of the
philosophers.” As a matter of fact, he not infrequently alludes to
contemporary matters or describes daily life without mentioning any
authorities, and his amusing accounts of such animals as cats and
dogs, or boys and girls, or his instructions how to set a table and
give a dinner, are almost entirely his own and show considerable power
of observation and dry humor. His chapters on geography, too, deal
in large measure and with unusual fulness with the feudal states and
peoples of his own day: Scotland, Ireland, Flanders, Brabant, Anjou,
Poitou, and so on through a long list alphabetically arranged. In
these and in other chapters he forgets all about the fact that he is
supposedly explaining only those things mentioned in the Bible, and
is manifestly actuated by a scientific interest in present facts and
phenomena. The influence of Isidore’s _Etymologies_ upon Bartholomew’s
book is evident, and Bartholomew often makes Isidore his starting point
in discussing a given topic. But he also often goes far beyond the
other’s brief statements; it seems clear that the scanty contents of
the _Etymologies_ are no longer deemed sufficient even in an elementary
encylopedia and general text-book. Bartholomew seems to use the
scissors less than Thomas of Cantimpré, to state things more in his own
words, and not to make such long extracts from or paraphrases of other

However, in Bartholomew’s first book, whose subject is God, the first
two chapters are taken entirely and perhaps discreetly, since the
difficult problem of the Trinity is under discussion, from an _Extra_
of Innocent III, while the third chapter is drawn from more varied
authorities, such as Augustine, the treatise on the Trinity ascribed
to Boethius,[1330] and the more recent Hugh and Richard, both of St.
Victor. Presently the theme of divine names is discussed[1331] and
Bartholomew lists and explains the ten Hebrew names of God, which are
found also in Isidore, namely: El, Eloe, Sabbaoth, Zelioz or Ramathel,
Eyel, Adonay, Ya, Tetragrammaton, Saday, and Eloym.

[Sidenote: The nature of demons.]

In the second book on the properties of angels is also discussed the
nature of demons.[1332] They are naturally perspicacious in matters
of science and powerful by their “sense of nature”--a phrase which
we have already met in William of Auvergne, whom, however, I think
Bartholomew does not cite; perhaps it was a technical expression that
spread rapidly from mouth to mouth of medieval psychologists as such
expressions do today,--experience of time, and knowledge of Scripture.
They can predict many future events, partly because their knowledge
of nature gained through their subtler senses is superior to man’s,
partly because of their longer lives which permit them to learn more,
partly by angelic revelation. Their bodies were celestial before they
transgressed but now are aerial. Apuleius’s characterization of them is
repeated _via_ Augustine, whose explanation is also given, that they
know occult virtues in nature which are hidden from us and by which
they are able to accelerate natural processes and work feats of magic
such as those performed by Pharaoh’s magicians.

[Sidenote: Psychology and physiology.]

Bartholomew’s third book may be described as psychological and
discusses the human mind or soul (_anima_), of which definitions by
various Greek philosophers are repeated, and the senses. The fourth
and fifth books are physiological. These three books seem to be based
mainly upon the writings of Constantinus Africanus; less frequently
Aristotle and other authorities are cited. One treatise is ascribed to
Avicenna and Constantinus which is not in Peter the Deacon’s list of
the latter’s works, namely, a treatise on poisonous animals and poisons
and presumably a translation of Avicenna by Constantinus.[1333] In this
connection we are told that while some animals have poisonous tongues
like snakes, others have medicinal and healing tongues like the dog, as
Cassiodorus says, and either from the goodness of nature or from some
occult property.[1334] We have already noted elsewhere Bartholomew’s
acceptance of the usual medieval theory of three brain cells devoted
to three mental faculties, in which connection he cites Johannitius
or Hunain ibn Ishak.[1335] In discussing the disease of _melancholia_
Bartholomew tells of a noble whom he knew who imagined that he was a
cat and insisted upon sleeping under the bed in order to watch the
mouse holes.[1336] In a later passage in his seventh book Bartholomew
repeats Constantinus’ distinction between mania as an infection of
the anterior cell of the brain with injury to the imagination and
melancholia as an infection of the central cell with loss of one’s

[Sidenote: Vision and perspective.]

In discussing vision Bartholomew gives the views of “an author of the
science of perspective” precedence over those of Constantinus.[1338]
This author believes that in vision three coterminous pyramids or cones
are formed with the apex of each in the pupil of the eye and the base
formed by the object seen. One pyramid is made up of _species_ from
the object coming along straight lines to the center of the eye. The
second pyramid is made by the vision going out from the eye to the
object seen. The third pyramid consists of light, which, as Bartholomew
explains elsewhere[1339] on the authority of Basel and Dionysius
and Augustine, is a distinct substance by which other bodies are
illuminated. Light was created three days before sun and moon which are
simply vehicles for it. But while this light is always shining, whether
visibly or invisibly, it produces illumination only when other bodies
are in a condition to receive it. The human eye can see itself only by
the reflection of rays, “and possibly the vision delights in the sight
of a mirror because through reflection of rays it is, by returning to
itself, fortified as it were and in a way strengthened.”[1340]

[Sidenote: Medieval domestic science.]

Bartholomew’s sixth book is entitled, “Of ages,” but really deals
more with matters of daily family and domestic life, discussing in
addition to age, death, infancy, childhood, manhood, such family
relationships as father, mother, and daughter, and such domestic
concerns as servants, food and drink, dinners and banquets, sleep and
waking, dreams and exercise. This last topic of exercise is discussed
largely in the words of a sermon by Fulgentius, but in other chapters
Bartholomew writes so vividly from his own observation that he deserves
quotation, although the themes are somewhat of a digression from our
main subject.[1341]

[Sidenote: The medieval domestic servant.]

“The handmaid is a female slave deputed to make herself useful to the
housewife. She is assigned to the more laborious and demeaning tasks,
she is fed with coarser food, she is clad in meaner clothing, she is
oppressed by the yoke of servitude.” Her son becomes a serf and, if she
is of servile condition, so does a freeman who marries her, nor is she
permitted to marry as she chooses. “Like the serf, she is because of
the vice of ingratitude recalled after being manumitted, is afflicted
with scoldings, is bruised by rods and beatings, is oppressed by varied
and conflicting vexations and anxieties, is scarcely permitted to
breathe amid her miseries.” Such painting of her woes does not imply
much sympathy on Bartholomew’s part, however, since he concludes by
saying that it is written that whoso nourishes his servant delicately
will find him insolent in the end.[1342]

[Sidenote: Medieval boys.]

Boys have a great capacity for mischief but are susceptible to
discipline, if put under tutors and compelled to submit to it. Their
constitutions are hot and moist, their flesh is soft, their bodies
are flexible, agile, and light; their minds are docile. They lead a
safe life without care and worry, appreciating only play, fearing no
danger more than the rod, loving apples better than gold. They go naked
unashamed; they are heedless of praise or scolding, easily angered and
easily placated, easily hurt in the body and unable to endure much
work. The hot humor that dominates them makes them restless and fickle.
They tend to eat too much and are susceptible to various diseases in
consequence. They think only of the present and care nothing for the
future; they love games and vanities but refuse to attend to gain and
utility. “The least things they think the greatest, and vice versa.”
“They want what is hurtful and contrary to them.” They do not remember
favors received. All that they see they desire and imitate. They prefer
to talk with and take advice from other boys, and shun the company of
their elders. They can’t keep secrets. They laugh or cry easily, and
they are continually shouting, talking, or chattering, and can scarcely
keep still even while they are asleep.[1343]

[Sidenote: Medieval girls.]

Girls “are in constitution hot, moist, and of delicate health; in
physique graceful and flexible and beautiful; in mental attitude modest
and timid and playful; in their social relations well trained in
manners, cautious and reticent in speech, luxurious in dress.” After
quoting Aristotle to the effect that women generally have longer and
softer hair than men and a longer neck, and remarking the peculiarities
of their complexions and figures, Bartholomew says further that they
have slenderer and more flexible hands and feet, a weaker voice,
voluble and ready speech, that they take short steps, and that in
mind they tend to be haughty, are prone to wrath, tenacious in hate,
merciful, jealous, impatient of labor, docile, tricky, bitter, and
“headlong in lust.”[1344] Whether Bartholomew is inconsistent in this
passage or believes that the female nature is, the reader must judge.

[Sidenote: A medieval dinner.]

These are Bartholomew’s instructions for giving a dinner party: “First
the food is prepared; at the same time the guests are assembled; chairs
and also stools are required; in the dining room tables are set and the
table furnishings are arranged and adorned. The guests with the host
are placed at the head table, but they do not sit down at table before
the hands of the guests are washed; next the host’s children and then
the servants are grouped together at table. Spoons, knives, and salt
cellars are first placed upon the table. Loaves of bread and cups of
wine are presently added. There follow many and varied courses; the
butlers and waiters serve each person diligently. The guests joyfully
engage in vying with one another in pledging toasts; they are cheered
with viols and citharas; now the wines and now the courses are
renewed; they divide and share with one another the dishes which happen
to be opposite them; finally the fruit and dessert are brought in.
When dinner is finished, the table furnishings and remains of food are
carried away and the tables are set aside. Hands are again washed and
wiped; thanks are returned to God and to the host; for the sake of good
cheer the cups go round again and again. When these features of the
dinner are over, the guests either are offered couches for some rest,
or are allowed to return home.”[1345]

[Sidenote: Dreams and their interpretation.]

In a chapter on dreams Bartholomew declares that they are sometimes
true and sometimes false. One should neither put indiscriminate faith
in them nor spurn them entirely, since sometimes certain conjectures
concerning the future may be had through dreams. Moreover, the meaning
of some dreams is evident at once; others require interpretation.
Dreams arise from varied sources, being produced by divine inspiration,
by angelic administration, by diabolic illusion, or by natural and
bodily causes.[1346]

[Sidenote: Medical advice.]

Bartholomew’s seventh book is medical, treating of infirmities in
seventy chapters. His desire to be brief is probably what restrains
him from including any long medical concoctions. He continues to make
much use of Constantinus Africanus, who is cited in almost every
chapter, and whose “many other experiments”[1347] Bartholomew often
has not time to include. One of the cures cited from Constantinus is
to scarify the shin bones in order to cure a headache, the theory
being that this will remove the injurious humor from the head to the
lower extremities.[1348] A part of the treatment prescribed for cases
of frenzy is to shave the scalp and wash it with tepid vinegar or
cover it with plasters made of the lung of a pig or cow. Keeping the
patient firmly bound in a dark place, bleeding him, and abstaining
from answering his foolish questions are other features of the regimen
suggested.[1349] To rouse a patient from a state of stupor and
lethargy it is recommended to pull hard at his hair or beard, dash cold
water frequently in his face, or make a stench under him.[1350] An
“experiment” against epilepsy from Platearius consists in scarifying
three drops of blood from the patient’s scalp and at the end of the fit
giving them to him to eat with a crow’s egg.[1351] Indeed crow’s eggs
alone are regarded as quite beneficial. To Platearius is also credited
the following method “of curing or at least palliating leprosy.”[1352]
Take a red snake with a white belly, remove the venom, cut off the
head and tail, cook it with leeks, and administer it frequently with
food,--a preparation roughly similar to theriac. Wine in which a
snake has lain putrefying a long time is “a medicine useful for many
diseases,” and Bartholomew repeats the tale we have heard before of
the woman who caused her blind husband to recover his sight instead of
killing him when she cooked a snake instead of an eel with garlic for
him to eat. After such liberties had been taken with his blindness, one
would expect a husband to recover his sight, if he could!

[Sidenote: Poisons.]

The poisons of venomous animals differ. The venom of the viper is hot
and dry; that of the scorpion, cold and dry; that of the spider, cold
and moist. Avicenna says that the poison of the male is really more
deadly than that of the female, but female serpents have more teeth
and so are perhaps worse on the whole. The venom of the old is more
injurious than that of the young; that of a fasting animal is more
harmful than that of a full animal; and poisons are worse in summer
than winter, and at noon than at night.[1353] “Diascorides” says[1354]
that river crabs possess an occult virtue against the bite of mad dogs,
and their ashes taken with gentian are a singular remedy. A scorpion
sting may be cured by placing oil in which the scorpion has been
drowned or boiled upon the puncture, or by pulverizing the scorpion’s
body and placing it upon the wound. The idea of course is that the
poison will return to the body from which it came.

[Sidenote: The waters above the firmament.]

In book eight Bartholomew discusses the universe and celestial bodies.
According to the tradition of the saints there is a visible and an
invisible heaven. The visible heaven is multiplex and subdivides into
seven heavens, the aerial, ethereal, fiery, Olympian, the firmament,
the aqueous or crystalline, and the empyrean. The authority of
Scripture concerning the waters above the firmament causes Bartholomew
to accept the existence of an aqueous or crystalline heaven. But he
rejects Bede’s view that these waters are cold and congealed in order
to temper the excessive heat generated by the swift revolution of the
other heavens, for Job tells us that there is concord and harmony
in the heavens, and cold and humid waters would be contrary to the
celestial substance of the heavens. Therefore “the moderns” have in
Bartholomew’s opinion “investigated the inmost secrets of philosophy
more profoundly,” when, as Alexander of Hales states, they suggest
that those waters are neither frigid, fluid, and humid, nor congealed,
solid, and ponderous, but on the contrary very mobile and remarkable
for their clearness and transparency. It is not because they are
congealed but because they are transparent that this heaven is called
crystalline.[1355] In other words, the “waters above the firmament” are
not really waters. And the original modern investigator who ventured
to dispute Bede’s authority on the subject of the waters above the
firmament was not Alexander of Hales but, as we have seen, William of
Conches, whom Bartholomew lists in his bibliography and quotes in other
passages, although he does not mention him by name here.

[Sidenote: The empyrean heaven: Rabanus.]

Of the other heavens Bartholomew gives most space to the empyrean. It
is by nature immobile and unmoved and consequently is not essential
like the other heavens for the continued generation of things in our
inferior world, but rather, as Alexander of Hales says, to round out
the universe and the types of bodies in it. Bartholomew continues:
“The empyrean heaven is the first body, simplest in nature, the least
corporeal, the subtlest, the first firmament of the world, largest in
quantity, lucid in quality, spherical in shape, loftiest in location
since farthest from the center, embracing in its amplitude spirits and
bodies visible and invisible, and the abode of the supreme God; for
God may be everywhere, yet he is said especially to be in the heaven,
since there shines most powerfully the working of his virtue.”[1356]
After this description of the last of the visible heavens as the abode
of invisible spirits and of God Himself there does not seem to be much
call for an invisible heaven, which Bartholomew himself seems by this
time to have forgotten. For the passage just quoted he cites Rabanus
as his source “who employs the words of Basil in the _Hexaemeron_,”
but I have been unable to find the passage either in the _Hexaemeron_
of Basil or the works of Rabanus Maurus.[1357] Nor have I been able to
find several other citations which Bartholomew makes from Rabanus in
matters astronomical and astrological.

[Sidenote: Alexander of Hales.]

A word may be introduced concerning Alexander of Hales, whom
Bartholomew has twice cited in the foregoing passages, but whom we
probably shall not have occasion to mention again. Like Bartholomew,
he was an Englishman and a Franciscan, and Bartholomew may have been
either an attendant upon his lectures or his colleague at Paris.
He died in 1245 and is known as one of the first to attempt to fit
together previous Christian opinion and theology with the newly
introduced works of Aristotle and writings of the Arabs. Of this we see
evidence in the citations made from him by Bartholomew. But Alexander’s
field was primarily theology and not natural science.

[Sidenote: Aristotelian theory of one heaven.]

While the saints may regard the heavens as manifold and list as many as
seven of them,[1358] the philosophers will admit only one heaven, says
Bartholomew, who this time correctly quotes Basil as affirming in the
_Hexaemeron_ that “the philosophers would rather gnaw out their tongues
than admit that there are many heavens.” Bartholomew also presents
Aristotle’s view in the _Liber de celo et mundo_ that the heaven is
characterized by the greatest possible simplicity and purity and has no
division or contrariety of parts. According to the new translation of
_De celo et mundo_ it is “a perfect complete unit to which there is no
like, neither fabricated nor generated,” and with an equal, single, and
circular motion. In the _De causis elementorum_ Aristotle holds further
that the heaven is a fifth element, differing in natural properties and
distinct from the four elements and not like them subject to generation
and corruption.[1359] Indeed, they would destroy one another by their
mutual contrariety and repugnance were it not for the conciliating
influence of celestial virtue.[1360] But while the heaven is one, it
has many orbs and circles of varying figure and magnitude, and there
is a greater aggregation of light in the stars than in other parts
of the sky. Such variations account for the varying or even contrary
effects produced by the heaven in our lower world at different times
and places, and explain why the pure sky causes corruption as well as
generation here below.

[Sidenote: As the basis of astrology.]

The Aristotelian foundation thus laid for the superstructure of
astrological science and art is apparently accepted by Bartholomew, who
states that “the Creator established the heaven as the cause and origin
of generation and corruption, and therefore it was necessary that it
should not be subject to generation and corruption.” In short, the
universe divides into two parts. The heaven, beginning with the circle
of the moon, is the nobler, simpler, superior, and active portion
of the universe. The other part, extending from the sphere of the
moon downward to earth’s center, is inferior, passive, acted upon and
governed by the heaven. In all his later scientific and astrological
discussion Bartholomew implies this hypothesis, and, after the two
chapters which we have already summarized on the waters above the
firmament and the empyrean heaven, pays no more attention to the seven
heavens of the saints. The firmament, “called by the philosophers the
first heaven and the last, in whose convexity are situated the bodies
of stars and planets,” absorbs his attention during the remaining
forty-eight chapters of his eighth book. “By means of its motion, it is
the effective principle of generation and corruption in the inferior
world.” Rabanus explains how its rays converge as toward a center upon
the earth’s surface and exert a concentrated impression there; and the
science of perspective also illustrates this. The three less stable
elements, air, fire, and water, obey the firmament even to the extent
of local motion, as is illustrated by the tides. The element earth is
not influenced in this way, but produces diverse species from itself in
obedience to the celestial impressions which it receives.

[Sidenote: Properties and effects of the signs and planets.]

Bartholomew discusses the signs of the zodiac in much the usual
astrological fashion. They are given animal names because in their
effects they represent the properties of those animals.[1361] In their
effects, too, they may be distinguished as hot or cold, masculine or
feminine, diurnal or nocturnal; and they are grouped in trios with
the four elements and cardinal points and in varied relations with
the planets. Each governs its portion of the human body; thus the Ram
“dominates the head and face, and produces a hairy body, a crooked
frame, an oblique face, heavy eyes, short ears, a long neck.”[1362]
Each sign also has its bearings on human life; thus Virgo is “the
house of sickness, of serfs and handmaids and the domestic animals.
It signifies inconstancy and changing from place to place.”[1363]
Bartholomew indeed devotes a separate chapter to “the properties and
occult virtues” of each sign “according to the astrologers.”[1364] The
seven planets by their progress through the signs and conjunctions in
them influence every creature on earth.[1365] Bartholomew outlines
their successive control of the formation of the child in the womb.
He also devotes a chapter to the influence of each planet. Mars, for
example, “disposes men to mobility and levity of mind, to wrath and
animosity and other choleric passions; it also fits men for arts
employing fire such as those of smiths and bakers, just as Saturn
produces agriculturists and porters of heavy weights, and Jupiter on
the contrary turns out men adapted to lighter pursuits such as orators
and money-changers.”[1366] Bartholomew also discusses the head and tail
of the dragon as “two stars which are not planets but yet seem to have
the nature and influence of the planets.”[1367] The fixed stars, too,
have their influence, causing storms or clear weather and, according
to the _mathematici_, presignifying sad or glad events. Bartholomew
further sets forth the theory of the _magnus annus_ or return of all
the stars to the same positions after an interval of 15,000 or 36,000
years. “But whatever the philosophers have said concerning it, this
much is sure that it is not for us to determine the last day.”[1368]
God alone knows. Bartholomew’s most frequently cited authorities on
the subject of astrology seem to be Albumasar, Messahala[1369] (Ma
Sha’Allah), and Alphraganus.

[Sidenote: Bartholomew illustrates the general medieval acceptance of

Thus Bartholomew, a Franciscan in good standing, who lectured on the
Bible at Paris and was called by the General of his Order to lecture
in Saxony, in a work intended for elementary students and the general
reader, far from engaging in any tilt with the astrologers or
attacking their art as involving fatalism and contrary to morality and
free will, affirms the general law of the control of earth by sky and
repeats with little or no question a mass of astrological detail from
Arabian writers. After such an exhibition as this of what a commonplace
and matter-of-course affair astrological theory was in the thirteenth
century, how impossible it is to have the least sympathy with those
specialists in medieval learning who would have the work of Daniel of
Morley shunned like the pest because of its astrological doctrine,
or account for Bacon’s imprisonment in 1278 by his astrological
doctrine, or deny that Albertus Magnus could have written the _Speculum
astronomiae_ with its astrological doctrine. But of Bacon and Albertus
more later.

[Sidenote: Medieval divisions of the day and hour.]

Bartholomew’s ninth book deals with time and its parts. He defines a
day as the time occupied by a complete revolution of the sun around
the earth, and states that a day consists of twenty-four hours, or
of four “quarters” of six hours each. But he seems unacquainted with
our division of the hour into sixty minutes and the minute into sixty
seconds. Instead he subdivides the hour into four “points” or forty
“moments.” Each moment is thus equivalent to a minute and a half of
our time, and it may be divided further into twelve _unciae_ (ounces),
while each _uncia_ includes forty-seven atoms, making 22,560 atoms
in an hour as against 3,600 of our seconds. Honorius of Autun in his
_De imagine mundi_, a work written presumably in the first part of
the twelfth century, speaks of the hour as a twelfth part of the day,
but makes it consist of four “points,” forty “moments,” and 22,560
atoms just as Bartholomew does. But Honorius also divides the hour
into ten “minutes,” fifteen “parts,” and sixty _ostenta_, which last
would correspond to our minutes, if his hour was of the same length as
ours. Honorius does not mention the _unciae_ of Bartholomew.[1370]
Bartholomew further tells us that Sunday is called the Lord’s Day and
is privileged in many particulars, since on it the world was created,
the Lord was born, rose from the dead, and also sent the Holy Spirit.
We have already presented Bartholomew’s discussion of the Egyptian days
in an earlier chapter.

[Sidenote: Form and matter: fire and coal.]

The tenth book, in nine brief chapters, is entitled, “Form and Matter,”
but after one chapter on form, discusses the elements. An element,
according to Constantinus, is a simple substance and the least particle
of a compound body. The rest of the chapters are devoted to the
particular element fire and to things closely associated with it, such
as flame, smoke, sparks, and ashes. _Carbo_, “Rabanus says, is fire
actually incorporated and united with earthly matter.” Bartholomew’s
further description suggests our coal, but perhaps he has only charcoal
in mind.

[Sidenote: Air and its creatures.]

The eleventh book treats in sixteen chapters of the element air and
its “passions,” such as winds, clouds, rainbows, dew, rain, hail,
snow, thunder and lightning, and leads up to the following book on
birds, or rather, creatures of the air, since bees, flies, crickets,
locusts, bats, and griffins are included in the alphabetical list
of thirty-eight chapters. The birds described are for the most part
familiar ones: the eagle, hawk, owl, dove, turtle-dove, quail,
stork, crow, crane, hen, swallow, kite, partridge, peacock, pelican,
screech-owl, sparrow, vulture, hoopoe, phoenix. Some of these creatures
place precious stones in their nests to keep off snakes, the eagle
employing the gem achates[1371] and the griffin an emerald.[1372]

[Sidenote: The swallow, swallow-stone, and swallow-wort.]

Swallows have gems called _celidonii_ in their gizzards, one white and
one red. The red variety is called masculine because it is of greater
virtue than the white kind. These stones are especially valuable if
they have been extracted from the chick before it touches the ground,
“as is said in _Lapidarius_ where their virtues are described as
Constantinus says.”[1373] _Lapidarius_ can scarcely mean Marbod’s poem
on gems, since he wrote later than Constantinus Africanus, and while he
discusses the _chelidonius_, he says nothing of extracting it so soon
and describes the colors of its two varieties as black and red,[1374]
and so does Bartholomew later on.[1375] Marcellus Empiricus had called
them black and white.[1376] _Chelidonius_ seems to be derived from the
Greek word for swallow, χελιδών, and to mean the swallow-stone. Pliny
mentions two varieties but simply states that they are like the swallow
in color, not that they come from its gizzard. Furthermore he describes
the color of one as purple on one side, of the other as “purple
besprinkled with black spots.”[1377] Solinus mentions swallows but
says nothing of any stone connected with them. Bartholomew, however,
also mentions the herb _celidonia_ or swallow-wort. He cites Macrobius
for the story that, if anyone blinds the young of swallows, the parent
birds restore their offspring’s sight by anointing their eyes with the
juice of this herb, a statement which is also found in Pliny.[1378] Not
only does the swallow contain gems of great virtue and know of healing
herbs; it has medical properties itself. For instance, blood extracted
from its right wing is a remedy for the eyes.

[Sidenote: The hoopoe and magic.]

Of the birds described by Bartholomew the _upupa_ or hoopoe is
especially associated with the practice of magic. Pliny cites the poet
Aeschylus as saying that the bird changes its form;[1379] and from
Aristotle to modern French peasants it has been believed to build its
nest of human ordure.[1380] After quoting Isidore, who in part uses
Pliny,[1381] for the bird’s supposed filthy habits, its frequenting
sepulchers, and the statement that anyone anointed with its blood
will see demons suffocating him in his dreams, Bartholomew adds that
its heart is used in sorceries. Students of nature (_Phisici_) say
that when it grows old and cannot see or fly, its offspring tear off
its outworn pinions and bathe its eyes with the juices of herbs--thus
just reversing the relation between the swallow and its young--and
warm it under their wings until its feathers grow again and, perfectly
renovated, it is able to see and fly as well as they. In Basil’s
_Hexaemeron_ a similar story is told of the filial devotion of young
storks toward their aged parent. The hoopoe’s renovation by its young
also is included in the Latin bestiaries,[1382] but Bartholomew
appears to cite _Phisici_ rather than _Physiologus_.[1383] Thomas of
Cantimpré’s chapter on the hoopoe is similar to Bartholomew’s except
that all he says to connect it with magic is that anointing one’s
temples with its blood protects one from sorcerers and enchanters; but
“how this is, Experimenter does not state.” Vincent of Beauvais gives
a somewhat fuller account of the hoopoe in his _Speculum naturale_
and the bird’s properties are also treated by Albertus Magnus in his
_De animalibus_,[1384] and in the _De mirabilibus mundi_ ascribed to
him, also by Petrus Hispanus in the _Thesaurus pauperum_,[1385] and
by Arnald of Villanova in _Remedia contra maleficia_. For the use of
the bird’s heart in magic Vincent cites a _Liber de natura rerum_,
which perhaps is the _Liber rerum_ cited by Thomas of Cantimpré,
who, however, in that case failed to copy the statement in question.
Vincent attributes to “Pythagoras in _The Book of the Romans_,” the
statement that sprinkling a sleeping person with the blood of the
hoopoe will cause him to see phantasms of demons, which is essentially
the same statement that Bartholomew draws from Isidore and Pliny. But
Bartholomew sometimes cites Pythagoras in _The Book of the Romans_.
These instances show the difficulty of dealing with medieval citations,
but on the whole indicate that Vincent used independently the same
sources as Thomas and Bartholomew and made a different selection from

[Sidenote: Waters and fish.]

In the thirteenth book Bartholomew deals with the element water, with
wells, streams, seas, ponds, pools, and drops of water, with some
particular bodies of water such as the Tigris, Euphrates, Jordan,
Lake of Tiberias, and Mediterranean Sea. In the last chapter fish are
considered. As in the account of birds, use is made of Isidore and
Pliny, notably concerning the cleverness with which fish escape the
snares laid for them by fishermen. Some fish are said to help their
fellows withdraw from the basket-like traps set for them by fishermen
by seizing their tails in their mouths and pulling them out backwards.
Aristotle, too, is cited and Avicenna is referred to several times
on the question whether a particular fish is edible or not. But an
authority especially employed in this chapter is Jorath or Iorat, who
in the bibliography at the end of the work is called a Chaldean. From
his book on animals Bartholomew takes such details as that there are
fish who live only three hours, who conceive from dew alone or in
accord with the phases of the moon and the rising and setting of the
stars. Dolphins, when a man is drowning, can tell from the odor whether
he has ever eaten the flesh of a dolphin. If he has not, they rescue
him and bring him safe to land; if he has, they devour him on the spot.

[Sidenote: Jorath on whales.]

Bartholomew also depends upon Jorath for his account of whales, which
were not treated of by Pliny. The whale possesses a superabundance of
sperm which floats on the water and, when collected and dried, turns
to amber. When hungry, the whale has only to open its mouth and emit a
fragrant odor like amber, and the other fish, attracted and delighted
thereby, swim into its jaws and down its throat. On some occasions,
however, this pleasant breath, if it may be so termed, of the whale
saves the other fish instead of luring them on to destruction. When
a certain serpentine and venomous fish approaches, they take refuge
behind the whale, who then repels the fetid odor of the newcomer by the
sweetness of his own effusion. While Bartholomew lists the whale along
with fish, he notes that Jorath says that terrestrial matter dominates
in it over water, and that consequently it becomes very corpulent and
fat, and in its old age dust collects on its back to such an extent
that vegetation grows there and the creature is often mistaken for an
island and lures sailors to their destruction,--a reminiscence, we
may suppose, of one of Lucian’s stories. So fat is the whale that he
must be wounded deeply to feel it at all, but once his inner flesh is
reached by the weapon, he cannot endure the bitterness of the salt
water, seeks the shore, and is easily captured. The whale cherishes
its young with wondrous love, and when they are stranded on shoals it
frees them by spouting water over them. When a severe storm is raging,
it swallows them and they abide safely in its belly until the storm is
past, when it vomits them forth again.

[Sidenote: Geography, physical and political.]

In the fourteenth book Bartholomew treats of earth, and besides
defining mountains, hills, valleys, plains, fields, meadows, deserts,
caves, and ditches in general, describes over thirty particular peaks
or mountain ranges, most of which are named in the Bible, like Ararat,
Bethel, Hermon, Hebron, and Horeb. But in the fifteenth book, on
Provinces, his geography is that of classical antiquity and of the
feudal world of his own time rather than that of Scripture. Where the
medieval region was known under the same name in antiquity, he is
apt to continue to use the old description of it, even though it may
be really out-of-date and no longer closely applicable. Sometimes,
however, as in the chapter on Burgundy, he uses only a little of
Isidore’s description and apparently writes the rest of the paragraph
from personal knowledge. And in the case of new localities and names,
for which he can find no ancient and early medieval authorities, he
describes the province intelligently and accurately as it is in his own
time. On the whole his account, although its 175 chapters are brief, is
of considerable value[1386] for the political geography of Europe in
the thirteenth century, both as a general survey showing what regions
he deemed important enough to mention[1387] and what he thought might
be omitted, and also often for particular details concerning particular
places, while it is sometimes enlivened by the spice of local or racial

[Sidenote: Also economic.]

Citing Isidore, Bartholomew divides the world as in a T map into Asia,
occupying one-half the circle, and Europe and Africa each occupying a
quarter. Indeed he says later that Africa is smaller than Europe;[1388]
Africa of course had not yet been circumnavigated. In speaking of
Alemannia he alludes to other provinces “in either Germany” which are
not included in his list of chapter headings: Austria and Bavaria near
the Danube, Alsace along the Rhine, “and many others which it would
be tedious to enumerate one by one.”[1389] He describes Apulia as the
maritime region in Italy separated from the island of Sicily by an arm
of the sea, and as a very populous land, full of gold and silver, rich
in grain, wine, and oil, famous for its renowned cities, well fortified
in castles and towns, fertile and fecund in varied crops. Brindisi
(Brundusium) is its metropolis, and across the sea from Apulia to the
south is Barbary.[1390] Bartholomew thus uses the term “Apulia” as “Le
Puglie” is used today, to include both ancient Apulia and Calabria,
which he does not mention by that name. His description testifies to
the greater prosperity of that region under the Normans and Frederick
II than in later times, and also shows that Bartholomew is not blind to
economic conditions in his survey of various regions. He is very apt,
indeed, to tell whether the soil is well-watered and fertile or rocky
and arid, and to describe the other resources of the district and the
characteristics of the peoples inhabiting it. He speaks in high praise
of the extensive dominions and sea-power of Venice and of the justice
and concord of its citizens.[1391] He also recognizes the importance of
the wool trade between England and Flanders.[1392]

[Sidenote: Medieval boundaries.]

Bartholomew often undertakes to state the boundaries of a region under
discussion. Sometimes he is clear and convincing in this, as when he
states that Gascony used to be a part of Aquitaine, that it is bounded
by the Pyrenees, the Ocean, and the county of Toulouse, and approaches
the territory of the Poitevins to the north; that it is drained by
the Garonne river and that Bordeaux is its metropolis.[1393] Sometimes
his statements are confusing, but we must remember that feudal states
were very difficult to bound exactly and varied greatly in extent from
time to time. Some mistakes in the points of the compass are perhaps
slips of copyists rather than of Bartholomew. He speaks of Brabant and
Lorraine as the westernmost or frontier provinces of Germany. Brabant
is bounded on the north by Frisia, the Britannic Ocean (North Sea), and
the Gulf of Flanders; on the west by lower Gaul and on the south by
upper France. It is watered by the Meuse and Scheldt.[1394] Lorraine is
bounded by Brabant, the Rhine, Alsace, the region of Sens, and Belgic
Gaul. Metz is located in it.[1395] Flanders is a province of Belgic
Gaul next the seacoast, with Germany to the east, the Gallic sea to the
west, and the region of Sens and Burgundy to the south.[1396]

[Sidenote: France in the thirteenth century.]

Bartholomew is uncertain whether France is named from the Franks or
from a free hangman (_a franco carnifice_) who became king at Paris
and from whom the executioners received privileges. Isidore does not
mention _Francia_, so that Bartholomew does not derive this etymology
from him. He seems uncertain also whether to identify France with
all ancient Gaul or simply with Belgic Gaul. He would carry it south
only to the province of Narbonensis and the Pennine Alps, but east
to the Rhine and Germany. This perhaps is an attestation of the
growing territorial power of the French monarch, but perhaps is also a
hold-over from the ancient boundaries of Gaul. At any rate many of his
other regions would overlap and conflict with a France of this size.
He extols the stone and cement about Paris, which give it an advantage
over other localities in building construction, and he further
eulogizes the city itself as the Athens of his age which elevates the
science and culture not of France only but all Europe.[1397]

[Sidenote: Brittany and the British Isles.]

Léopold Delisle, writing in the _Histoire Littéraire de la France_,
endeavored to claim Bartholomew as a Frenchman, despite the _Anglicus_
that regularly accompanies his name. Yet for all Bartholomew’s praise
of Paris and Venice, his chapters on England, Ireland, Scotland, and
Brittany[1398] are alone almost enough to determine his nationality.
He asserts that Brittany should be called _Britannia Minor_, and the
island _Britannia Maior_ or Great Britain, since Brittany was settled
by fugitive Britons from the island and the daughter should not be
raised to an equality with the mother country, especially since it
cannot equal Great Britain either in population or merit.[1399] Also
Bartholomew represents the Irish as savages[1400] and describes the
Scots in very unfavorable terms. His view is that if they have any good
customs, they borrowed them from the English. He admits, however, that
the Scots would be good-looking in face and figure, but then adds the
insulting condition, if they would not insist on deforming themselves
by wearing their national costume.[1401] But as for England, or Albion
as it was once called, after describing it as the largest island in
the (Atlantic) ocean and recounting some of its legends and history,
Bartholomew quotes a metrical description of it as a fertile corner of
the world, a rich island which has little need of the rest of the world
but whose products all the rest of the world requires, and whose people
are happy, jocose, and free of mind, tongue, and hand.[1402] Censure of
and prejudice against all others who claim to be British, ill-concealed
insular pride! Who can doubt that the writer is an Englishman?

[Sidenote: A geography by Herodotus.]

Some writer named Herodotus is cited a good deal by Bartholomew for
such regions as Poitou, Picardy, Saxony, Sclavia, Scotland, and
Thuringia, of which the Greek historian Herodotus of course knew
nothing and said nothing.

[Sidenote: Two passages about magic.]

The inhabitants of Finland, we are told, are a barbarous race “occupied
with magic arts.” They practice divination by means of the number of
knots in a ball of thread and sell favorable winds to the sailors who
navigate along their shores. In reality, Bartholomew explains, the
demons send the winds or not, in order to secure the souls of the Finns
in the end.[1403] While we are on the subject of magic, a passage
from Bartholomew’s next book may be noted.[1404] Discussing the gem
Heliotrope, he cites Isidore for the statement that “it manifests the
stupidity of enchanters and magicians who glory in their prodigies,
for they deceive men’s eyes in their operations just as this gem does,
of which he says by way of illustration that together with the herb
of the same name and certain incantations it deceives the gaze of the
spectators and causes them not to see the man who carries it.” But
when we turn to the _Etymologies_,[1405] we find that Isidore simply
quotes the sentence of Pliny, “This too is a manifest instance of the
impudence of the magicians that they say that the bearer of this stone
cannot be seen if he joins to it the herb Heliotrope and adds certain
prayers.” Bartholomew has evidently put his own interpretation upon the

[Sidenote: Bartholomew and Arnold of Saxony on stones.]

The last passage has introduced us to Bartholomew’s sixteenth book
on gems, minerals, and metals. Valentin Rose,[1406] in what Langlois
praised as “sa belle dissertation sur le _De lapidibus_ aristotélique
et sur le _Lapidaire_ d’Arnoldus Saxo,”[1407] exploited a hitherto
obscure German writer, Arnold of Saxony, who appears to be cited only
by Vincent of Beauvais and of whose works but a single manuscript is
known. Yet Rose would have us believe that Albertus Magnus made much
use of him without acknowledgment in his work on minerals[1408] and
that Bartholomew did the same in his sixteenth book. I shall endeavor
to show that it is much more likely that Arnold copied Bartholomew.
First, it is less likely that Bartholomew, who was called to Magdeburg
to instruct the Saxons, possibly after his _De proprietatibus rerum_
had been completed, would have borrowed from one of them than that
the opposite should be the case. Second, Bartholomew’s work is much
fuller than Arnold’s which Rose admits is “meager and mechanical.”
Third, Bartholomew’s work is professedly a compilation; his object is
to cite his authorities and he usually does so scrupulously; hence if
he made much use of Arnold, he would certainly mention him somewhere.
Fourth, in descriptions of particular stones Arnold of Saxony cites
no authorities but merely makes the lump statement at the start that
he uses Aristotle, Aaron and Evax, by whom he means Marbod’s poem,
and “Diascorides”; Bartholomew on the other hand in the case of each
gem makes distinct citations from Isidore, _Lapidarius_,[1409] and
“Diascorides,” all of whom he is evidently using directly but with
discrimination and in different combinations in each particular case.
Fifth, the same stones are treated more fully by Bartholomew than by
Arnold, whose terse descriptions suggest the style of an abbreviator.
Thus Bartholomew devotes two columns to the sapphire; Arnold gives
it but eleven lines. Sixth, although Rose denied that Arnold used
Aristotle and “Diascorides” except in his other work _De virtute
universali_, and contended that in his _De virtutibus lapidum_ he used
only Marbod and one other unknown source, in point of fact almost
every passage in Arnold which Rose refers to this unknown source is
given by Bartholomew as from “Diascorides.” If, therefore, Arnold’s
unknown source is not “Diascorides,” it must be Bartholomew. The
natural inference is that while Bartholomew has made direct use of
some treatise passing under the name of Dioscorides, Arnold has not
seen this treatise itself but has probably condensed or extracted it
at second-hand from Bartholomew without acknowledging his indebtedness
to Bartholomew at all and only vaguely acknowledging his debt to
“Diascorides” in his preface. This inference is supported by the use
made of Isidore on stones by our two authors; Bartholomew uses Isidore
directly and cites book and chapter; Arnold repeats indirectly through
Marbod a bare skeleton of brief phrases which originally were in

[Sidenote: Citations by Arnold of Saxony and by Bartholomew.]

Rose further asserted, without printing the passages in question to
support his contention, that Albertus Magnus had simply copied a number
of citations from Arnold, such as Jorach on animals, Pictagoras in
_The Book of the Romans_, Esculapius in _De membris_, Zeno in _De
naturalibus_, Velbetus in _De sensibus_, and Alchyldis _De venenis_.
But we have already noted that Bartholomew cites Jorath and Pythagoras;
Zeno, too, is in his bibliography, and in the introduction to his
eighteenth book he cites the _Liber Escolapii de occultis membrorum
virtutibus_. Vincent of Beauvais also cites these works more than once.
I do not believe that Bartholomew took his citations from Arnold,
and I doubt if either Albert or Vincent did. The probability is that
such books were common property then, however little may be known
about them today, and that it would be as easy then for anyone to lay
his hand on these books as on the works of Arnold of Saxony, whom
Vincent alone mentions. In discussing other mineral substances than
gems, such as metals, sulphur, salt, soda, glass, Bartholomew cites
Aristotle, Avicenna, and Platearius as well as _Lapidarius_, Isidore,
and “Diascorides,” but in the seventeenth book on trees and herbs he
continues to cite “Dyascorides” and Isidore, although also making
extensive use of Pliny. In the eighteenth book on animals his list
of authorities widens again and he cites Solinus, Papias, Marcianus,
Aristotle, Theophrastus, Avicenna, and Isaac, but Pliny continues to be
his chief reliance.

[Sidenote: Virtues of animals.]

In the introduction to this book Bartholomew takes the view, supported
by the authority both of Pliny and of John of Damascus,[1411] that all
kinds of animals were created for man’s benefit. Even fleas and vermin,
like wild beasts and reptiles, are useful in leading him to recognize
his own infirmity and to invoke the name of God. But furthermore
“there is nothing in the body of an animal which is without manifest
or occult medicinal virtue.” Escolapius in _The Occult Virtues of
Members_ states that hemorrhoids may be cured by sitting on a lion’s
skin, and Bartholomew lists other examples of amulets, ligatures, and
suspensions from Pliny and the _Viaticum_ of Constantinus Africanus
as well as “Dyascorides” and “Pitagoras in _The Book of the Romans_.”
The knowledge of medicinal herbs and the semi-human emotions or moral
virtues supposed to be possessed by animals also receive the usual
treatment. Bartholomew informs us that the deadly basilisk loses its
venomous character when burned to an ash, and that its ashes are
considered useful in operations of alchemy and especially in the
transmutation of metals.[1412] Jerome and Solinus are cited concerning
dragons who overturn ships by flying against their sails, and of
the use made by the Ethiopians of the blood of dragons against the
summer’s heat and of their flesh for divers diseases. For as David
says, “Thou gavest him for food to the peoples of Ethiopia.”[1413]
Marvelous monsters of India are not forgotten, and Aristotle is cited
concerning a terrible man-eating wolf in India with three sets of
teeth, a lion’s foot, a scorpion’s tail, human face and voice. Its
voice is furthermore terrible like the sound of a trumpet, and it is
swift as a deer.[1414] Bartholomew’s credulity and scepticism vary with
the attitude of his authorities. When he finds them in disagreement
over the question whether the beaver castrates itself in order to
escape its hunters--Cicero, Juvenal, Isidore, and Physiologus asserting
this, while Pliny, Dyascorides, and Platearius deny it--he prefers the
arguments of the latter, especially since the experience of his own
time supports their view.[1415]

[Sidenote: _Physiologus._]

Physiologus is cited a number of times[1416] by Bartholomew concerning
the snake, crocodile, elephant, wolf, wild ass or _onager_, the
onocentaur who is half human and half ass, panther, siren, and taxo or
melus. Rather strangely he does not cite Physiologus in describing the
lion. Bartholomew’s citations of Physiologus bear out the points we
have made in an earlier chapter that Physiologus is one thing, and the
allegorical interpretation of passages cited from Physiologus another
thing, that Physiologus means what it says, “Natural Scientist,”
and not allegorist or moralizer. For although a primary purpose of
Bartholomew’s own work is supposed to be the elucidation of the truth
concealed in Scripture under the symbolism of natural phenomena,
he cites Physiologus simply for zoological data and omits entirely
the moral application and spiritual allegory which it has become
customary to associate with the term Physiologus. Moreover, much which
Bartholomew ascribes to Physiologus cannot be found in any of the
bestiaries which are commonly associated with that name.[1417] This
again shows how the middle ages added to its ancient authorities.

[Sidenote: Color, odor, savor, liquor.]

In his nineteenth and last book Bartholomew states that he will treat
“first of color, then of odor, then of savor, last of liquor.” The
discussion of color occupies the first thirty-six chapters in which
Aristotle is more frequently cited than any other authority. The
citations become less numerous from chapter eleven to thirty-six[1418]
while particular colors are being described, and where Bartholomew
perhaps gives us some original information. Isaac seems to be
Bartholomew’s chief authority in the chapters upon smell and taste.
Concerning the latter matter Bartholomew states that the theories of
philosophers and medical men disagree.[1419] Under the caption of
Liquor he describes honey, mead, _claretum_ (which was a mixture of
wine, honey, and spices), milk, butter, and cheese. These last suggest
eggs, and chapters 77 to 113 are devoted to those of various animals.
The work then proceeds to consider weights and measures, and concludes
with chapters describing various musical instruments.[1420]


[1317] Bartholomew has already been presented in part to
English-speaking readers in Steele’s _Medieval Lore_, London, 1907,
and more recently in excerpts in Coulton’s _Social Life in Britain
from the Norman Conquest to the Reformation_, Cambridge, 1918, but
their quotations and most other modern references to him are based upon
the later medieval English versions of his work and not upon his own
original Latin text. My summary is based directly upon the Latin text
as printed by Lindelbach at Heidelberg in 1488:

“_Explicit liber de proprietatibus rerum editus a fratre Bartholomeo
anglico ordinis fratrum minorum. Anno domini Mcccclxxxviii kalendas
vero Junii xii._”

I am indebted to the liberality of the John Crerar Library in Chicago
in allowing this rare volume to be transported to Cleveland for my use.

I have also checked up the printed text to some extent by examination
of the following MSS at Paris. On the whole the discrepancies between
the MSS and printed version seem slight, although a modern critical
edition of Bartholomew’s work is certainly desirable, especially in
view of the rarity of the _editio princeps_.

BN 16098, 13th century.

BN 16099, 13th century.

BN 347, 14th century.

Since I finished this chapter a paper has appeared by G. E. Se Boyar,
“Bartholomaeus Anglicus and his Encyclopaedia,” in _The Journal of
English and Germanic Philology_, XIX (1920) 168-89.

[1318] _De propriet. rerum_, Book XIX, close.

[1319] Wadding, _Annales_, 1230, No. 16; cited HL XXX, 355.

[1320] Cited HL XXX, 354.

[1321] _De propriet. rerum_, XV, 88.

[1322] HL XXX, 357; at pp. 356-7 it reproduces Bartholomew’s

[1323] IV, 2, “Hec vincentius in speculo suo naturali, li. III, ca.
lxxiii.” I was not able to find this citation in such MSS as I examined.

[1324] Had the _Speculum naturale_ been written before the _De
proprietatibus rerum_, Bartholomew, if he cited it at all, would have
made use of it more than once, but would hardly have spoken as he did
of the need of one compilation on the natures and properties of things,
had the _Speculum_ already been in existence.

[1325] VIII, 3.

[1326] It is true that they do not always seem absolutely accurate, but
copyists may have altered or misplaced them.

[1327] _Etymol._, XII, 4.

[1328] _De propriet. rerum_, XVIII, 8.

[1329] HL XXX, 363.

[1330] And now again accepted as his; see above, chapter 27, page 619.

[1331] _De propriet. rerum_, I, 19.

[1332] _Ibid._, II, 19-20.

[1333] _De propriet. rerum_, V, 21-22. (Henceforth all citations in
this chapter, unless otherwise noted, will be to this work.) BN 16099,
fol. 31r, V. 21, “ut dicunt avicenna et constantinus in tractatu de
venenosis animalibus et venenis”; V. 22, “ut dicunt predicti auctores
in tractatu de venenis.”

[1334] V, 21.

[1335] III, 10 and 16; V, 3.

[1336] IV, 11.

[1337] VII, 5.

[1338] III, 17.

[1339] VIII, 40.

[1340] V, 7.

[1341] Since I completed this chapter in manuscript form there has
appeared in print G. C. Coulton’s _Social Life in Britain from the
Conquest to the Reformation_, Cambridge, 1918, in which he has selected
almost exactly the same passages from Bartholomew as illustrations
of his theme. This is welcome confirmation of their interest and
importance, and I have decided to let the following paragraphs
stand for two reasons, despite the fact that they are now available
elsewhere in English. In the first place any description of the _De
proprietatibus rerum_ would seem rather incomplete without them. In
the second place Mr. Coulton gives the passages in Trevisa’s English
translation, while I have made a translation direct from the Latin text
in more modern English. The exaggerated impression of quaintness and
illiteracy which the old English version makes upon the modern reader
finds in my opinion little or no justification in the original Latin.
Men apparently could think more directly in Latin in the thirteenth
century than they could express themselves in English in the fourteenth
or fifteenth century.

[1342] VI, 11.

[1343] VI, 5.

[1344] VI, 6.

[1345] VI, 22.

[1346] VI, 27.

[1347] VII, 9 and 16.

[1348] VII, 2.

[1349] VII, 4.

[1350] VII, 6.

[1351] VII, 9.

[1352] VII, 64.

[1353] VII, 66.

[1354] VII, 68.

[1355] VIII, 3.

[1356] VIII, 4.

[1357] At least as printed in Migne, PL.

[1358] R. H. Charles, in discussing “The Seven Heavens--an early Jewish
and Christian belief” (Morfill and Charles, _The Book of the Secrets of
Enoch_, Oxford, 1896, pp. xxx-xlvii), asserts that after Chrysostom,
“Finally such conceptions, failing in the course of the next few
centuries to find a home in Christian lands, betook themselves to
Mohammedan countries” (_Ibid._, xxxi-xxxii). But Bartholomew ascribes
to “the tradition of the saints” a belief in the plurality of heavens
and a sevenfold division of them other than the planetary spheres.

[1359] VIII, 2.

[1360] VIII, 28.

[1361] VIII, 9.

[1362] VIII, 10.

[1363] VIII, 15.

[1364] VIII, 21, which is the last of the twelve chapters.

[1365] VIII, 22.

[1366] VIII, 25.

[1367] VIII, 31.

[1368] VIII, 33.

[1369] In the bibliography _Miselat astrologus_; in the text Misa.,
Misael, mesahel, Misalach, etc. I am convinced that none of these is
meant for Michael Scot who is also listed in the bibliography but does
not seem to be cited in the text.

[1370] Migne, PL vol. 172, col. 147, “Hora ... est duodecim pars
diei, constans ex quatuor punctis, minutis decem, partibus quindecim,
momentis quadraginta, ostentis sexaginta, atomis viginti duobus mil,
quingentis et sexaginta.”

[1371] XII, 1.

[1372] XII, 19.

[1373] XII, 21, “hi lapidi dicuntur celidonii et sunt preciosi maxime
quando extrahuntur de pullo antequam tangat terram ut dicitur in
lapidario ubi eorum virtutes describuntur, ut dicit Constan. Sanguis
de dextra ala extractus oculis medetur....” But perhaps the “ut dicit
Constan.” goes with these last words rather than the preceding.

[1374] Migne, PL 171, 1750. In a number of other cases Bartholomew’s
citations of _Lapidarius_ do not apply to Marbod.

[1375] XVI, 30.

[1376] _De medicamentis_, cap. viii.

[1377] NH 37, 56.

[1378] NH 25, 50.

[1379] NH 10, 44.

[1380] Bostock and Riley, English Translation of Pliny’s _Natural
History_, London, 1890 (Bohn Library), II, 511 note. And see D’Arcy W.
Thompson’s note on Aristotle’s _History of Animals_, IX, 15.

[1381] _Etymologies_, XII, vii, 66, in Migne PL 82, 468.

[1382] Cahier (1851); _De bestiis_, I, 51, ascribed to Hugh of St.
Victor, in Migne PL 177, 50.

[1383] _Phisici_ in the printed edition used; in BN 16099, fol.
97r, _ph’i_; BN 347, fol. 126r, _ph’ici_. In the work of Thomas of
Cantimpré, however, BN 347B, 14th century, fol. 104v, _“Dicit ph’s”_
which may stand for Physiologus, Philosophus, or Phisicus.

[1384] _De animal_, XXIII, 111.

[1385] _Thesaurus pauperum_, cap. 85.

[1386] Yet neither Bartholomew of England nor Thomas of Cantimpré is
mentioned by C. Kretschmer, _Die physische Erdkunde im christlichen
Mittelalter_, 1889, although he uses Neckam, Vincent of Beauvais,
Albertus Magnus, and Roger Bacon.

[1387] Bartholomew’s list of provinces with the Latin name anglicized
in some cases is as follows. Asia, Assyria, Arabia, Armenia, Aradia,
Albania (_i.e._, in Asia), Attica, Achaia, Arcadia, Alania (land
of the Alani), Amazonia (land of the Amazons), Alemannia, Anglia
(England), Aquitaine, Anjou, Auvergne, Apulia, Africa, Asturia,
Aragon, Babylonia, Bactria, Braciana, Brabant, Belgica, Bithynia,
Britannia, Boecia (Boeotia), Bohemia, Burgundy, Cappadocia, Chaldea,
Cedar, Kent, Cantabria, Canaan, Campania, Cauda, Cilicia, Cyprus,
Crete, Cyclades, Choa, Corsica (later occurs a longer chapter on
Korsica), Dalmatia, Denmark (Dacia), Delos, Dedan, Europe, Evilath,
Ethiopia, Egypt, Hellas, Eola (Aeolia?), Franconia, Francia (_i.e._
France), Flanders, Fenix (Phoenicia?), Phrygia, Frisia, Fortunate
Islands (Canaries), Galilee, Gallacia (in central Europe), Gallicia
(in the Spanish peninsula), Gaul, Gadis, Greece, Isle of the Gorgons,
Gothia and the island of Gothland (Sweden and Gotland), Guido, India,
Hyrcania, Idumea, Judea, Iberia, Italy, Spain (Hispania), Ireland
(Hibernia), Icaria, the island in the salt sea (De insula in salo
sita), Carthage, Carinthia, Lacedemonia, Lithuania (Lectonia), Livonia,
Lycia, Lydia, Libya (Lybia), Lorraine (Lothoringia), Lusitania,
Mauritania, Macedonia, Magnesia, Mesopotamia, Media, Melos, Midia,
Meissen, Mytilene, Nabathea, Norway, Normandy, Numidia, Narbonensis,
Ophir, Holland (Ollandia), Orcades, Paradise, Parthia, Palestine,
Pamphylia, Pannonia, Paros, Pentapolis, Persia, Pyrenees, Pigmy-land,
Poitou (Pictavia), Picardy, Ramathea, Reucia, Rivalia, Rinchonia, the
Roman province (_i.e._, Provence), Romania, Rhodes, Ruthia, Sabaea,
Samaria, Sambia, Sabaudia, Sardinia, Sarmatia, Samos, Saxony, Sclavia
(land of the Slavs), Sparta (Sparciata), Seres (_i.e._, China), Seeland
(Zeeland), Semogallia, Senonensis (region about Sens), Syria, Sichima,
Scythia, Sicyon, Sicily, Sirtes, Scotland (Scotia), Suecia (Sweden,
before called Gothia), Suevia (Swabia), Tanatos, Taprobana, Thrace,
Traconitida, Thessaly, Tenedos, Thule, Tripoli (two are distinguished
in Syria and Africa respectively), Tragodea, Troyland, Tuscany
(Thuscia), Thuringia, Thuronia (the region about Tours), Gascony
(Vasconia), Venice, Westphalia, Vironia, Finland, Vitria, Iceland,

[1388] XV, 19.

[1389] XV, 13.

[1390] XV, 18.

[1391] XV, 169.

[1392] XV, 58.

[1393] XV, 168.

[1394] XV, 25.

[1395] XV, 92.

[1396] XV, 58.

[1397] XV, 57.

[1398] Of these four chapters Delisle (HL XXX, 353-65) quoted only that
on England. Delisle gave extracts from Bartholomew’s descriptions of
several French provinces to show that he knew them well and stated that
he gave much fewer details concerning England, but that he (Delisle)
would transcribe the chapter “parce qu’on pourrait supposer qu’il
renferme des allusions à la prétendue origine anglaise de Barthélemi.”
Delisle also cited (p. 362) the chapter on Britannia, but omitted the
statements which I shall cite, and earlier said (p. 358), “Nous n’avons
rien à relever dans les chapitres de la Normandie, de la Bretagne,” etc.

Yet the statements I shall cite occur in both the MSS which Delisle
used, where the chapter on Britannia is continued beyond the point
where his quotation leaves off as follows:

BN 16098, 13th century, fol. 14Or. “Est autem alia britannia minor
super oceanum aquitanicum sita in partibus galliarum que a britonibus
relinquentibus britanniam maiorem propter importunitatem germanorum
est usque hodie populata, vero usque adhuc genus britonum et nomen
perseverat, et quamvis hec britannia in multis laude digna sit, non
potest tamen filia matri, minor britannia maiori comparari, et immo
bene minor britannia debuit vocari que sicut nec numero populi sic nec
merito soli potest maiori britannia adequari.”

BN 347, 14th century, fol. 145, is the same except that _tamen_
precedes _potest_, and that the words _minor britannia maiori comparari
et immo bene_ are omitted, evidently by the mistake of a copyist who
has jumped from one _minor_ to the next _minor_ and thus inadvertently
omitted the intervening words.

[1399] XV, 28.

[1400] XV, 80.

[1401] XV, 152.

[1402] XV, 14.

[1403] XV, 172.

[1404] XVI, 41.

[1405] _Etymol._, XVI, 7.

[1406] V. Rose, “Aristoteles De Lapidibus und Arnoldus Saxo,” in
_Zeitschrift für deutsches Alterthum_, XVIII (1875), 321-455.

[1407] Langlois (1911), p. 124.

[1408] J. Ruska, _Das Steinbuch des Aristoteles_, 1912, p. 38,
reiterates, “Sein Büchlein _De virtutibus lapidum_ ist die Grundlage
des Steinverzeichnisses in Albertus Magnus’ 5 Büchern _De mineralibus_.”

It also is asserted that Vincent and Albert learned of the mariner’s
compass from this Arnold’s _De virtute universali_,--a view which
overlooks Alexander Neckam’s earlier allusions to the compass.

[1409] This title can scarcely refer to Arnold’s _De virtutibus

[1410] The fact is that Rose examined the text of Bartholomew in a
careless and superficial manner. He used some Frankfurt edition of the
_De proprietatibus rerum_ for which he gives no date, and he usually
fails to state what chapter of Bartholomew he is citing, but refers to
him simply by the letter B. Also he fails to note that the first two
stones listed by Arnold, namely, _abeston_ (asbestos) and _absictus_
(_apsyctos_) are both in Bartholomew, and what is more, are spelled
exactly the same by both authors. Nor are these the only gems that Rose
fails to note are treated of by both authors. Others are _alabandina_,
_calcofanus_ (which Bartholomew begins with a k), _virites_ or
_pyrites_ (also spelled a little differently in Bartholomew), and
_turcois_ (_De turchoge_ in Bartholomew). In the first three of these
four passages Arnold’s statements sound like a bald and abbreviated
copy of Bartholomew’s description.

[1411] John of Damascus, who wrote on theology, dialectic, and so forth
in the first half of the eighth century (works in Migne, PG vols.
94-96) became well known to western writers through the twelfth century
translation of him by Burgundio of Pisa. Some of the works ascribed to
him are probably spurious, but “his undoubted works are numerous and
embrace a wide range.” A chapter is devoted to the introduction of his
writings into western Europe in J. de Ghellinck, S. J., _Le Mouvement
théologique du XIIe siècle, Études, Recherches, et Documents_, Paris,
1914; see EHR (1915), p. 112. But see Steinschneider (1866), pp. 375-91.

[1412] XVIII, 15.

[1413] XVIII, 37.

[1414] XVIII, 69.

[1415] XVIII, 28, “et hoc quotidie patet in castoribus qui in diversis
locis inveniuntur.”

[1416] XVIII, 8, 32, 43, 69, 76, 77, 80, 95, 101.

[1417] Lauchert (1889), p. 105, has recognized this fact, saying of
the _De proprietatibus rerum_, “worin ebenfalls der Physiologus häufig
citirt ist und auch für Manches das nicht aus ihm stammt.”

[1418] In reading the printed edition I thought that some of these
chapters might be later interpolations, since after _minium_ has been
described in chapter 16 it is again considered in chapter 25, and
_indicum_ is similarly discussed in both chapters 21 and 31. But these
chapters are also repeated in BN 347, 16098, and 16099.

[1419] XIX, 40.

[1420] These matters are found in BN 16098 and 16099 as well as in the
printed edition. “Explicit Tractatus de proprietatibus” precedes the
bibliography in BN 16099, follows it in BN 16098.



 Chief sources for Robert Grosseteste--Reasons for Roger
 Bacon’s eulogy--Grosseteste’s scholarly career--His
 writings: absence of magic--His scientific writings
 little affected by his ecclesiastical position--Reliance
 on experience--Theory of vision and science of
 perspective--Experimental discovery of lenses--Mentioned
 also in _The Romance of the Rose_--Theories formed
 by experimenters with lenses--Mathematical physics:
 the radiation of virtue--The _Computus_ and calendar
 reform--Juggling with numbers--From mathematics to
 astronomy to astrology--Astrology in natural philosophy,
 agriculture, alchemy, medicine and music--Some astrological
 technical detail--Man and the stars--Grosseteste’s theory
 of comets--Alchemy--Other treatises--_Summa philosophiae_
 ascribed to Grosseteste--Its contents--Oriental origin
 of philosophy--Greek men of learning--Arabs and medieval
 Christians--Ancient and modern science compared--Criticism
 of Aristotle and the Arabic text--Use of the word
 “modern”--Theology, philosophy, and science; speculative and
 experimental--Astrology in the _Summa_--Occult virtue and
 alchemy--Brother Giles on the comet of 1264--Appendix I. The
 Perspective or Optics of Witelo.

[Sidenote: Chief sources for Robert Grosseteste.]

The fame of Robert Grosseteste,[1421] who lived from about 1175 to 1253
and was bishop of Lincoln during the last eighteen years of his life,
rests largely upon the praises of his countrymen and contemporaries,
Matthew Paris and Roger Bacon, and upon his own writings. The
historian, Matthew Paris, depicts him especially as the man of affairs,
the churchman and statesman who dared oppose either king or pope for
England’s sake. But with his repeated resistance in parliament to
royal financial exactions, his outspokenness against abuses at the
papal court and his refusal to admit papal provisors to benefices in
his diocese, his aggressive and reforming activity in his bishopric
and consequent quarrels with the monastic orders and his own cathedral
chapter--with all this side of his career we are little concerned. It
is rather as a great scholar of his time that like Roger Bacon we shall
look back upon him.

[Sidenote: Reasons for Roger Bacon’s eulogy.]

Bacon’s eulogies of Grosseteste may seem rather extravagant. Writing
fourteen years after his death he thinks that no living scholar can
compare with him, nay, he ranks him and Adam Marsh, another Englishman
of whom we know little, as in their day what Solomon, Aristotle and
Avicenna were in theirs.[1422] One reason for this high praise is
presumably that Grosseteste had been Bacon’s favorite teacher, and
certainly that he was interested in the same learned pursuits, Greek
and Hebrew, mathematics, optics, experimental science, as the friar
who followed him. Roger practically admits that he owes much in those
fields to Robert and an examination of Grosseteste’s writings makes
this fact still more evident.

[Sidenote: Grosseteste’s scholarly career.]

A letter by Giraldus Cambrensis written before the close of the twelfth
century speaks of the then youthful Grosseteste as already proficient
in law and medicine. He seems to have been born of humble and poor
parents at Stradbrook in Suffolk.[1423] He was educated at Oxford where
he became _rector scholarum_ and Chancellor and in 1224 the first
rector of the Franciscans at Oxford. He perhaps also studied at Paris.
After holding various archdeaconries and other prebends he was elected
bishop of Lincoln in 1235 but continued his interest in the welfare of
the university at Oxford. Roger Bacon, in affirming that Grosseteste
surpassed all others in knowledge of the sciences, gives as a reason
his long life and experience as well as his enthusiasm for study;[1424]
and in another passage declares that hitherto it has taken thirty or
forty years for a man to become really proficient in mathematics, as
the case of Robert Grosseteste among others shows.[1425] Bacon also
states that it was not “until the latter portion of his life” that he
undertook the work of making translations and summoned Greeks and had
grammars brought from Greece and other lands. Since Grosseteste appears
at first to have studied law and medicine rather than ancient languages
and mathematical sciences, Bacon’s statements suggest that the works of
Grosseteste which we are about to consider were written late in life.
This inference is further borne out by a passage in the treatise _De
impressionibus aeris seu de prognosticatione_ which gives the positions
of the seven planets in the signs of the zodiac and states the date as
“the Arabic year 646 or the year of grace 1249.”[1426]

[Sidenote: His writings: absence of magic.]

Our discussion of Grosseteste will be based upon some treatises
included in Baur’s edition of his philosophical works. They are mostly
brief and in some cases seem rather fragmentary. We shall not be
concerned with his Greek grammar or with his theological writings,
which occupy half of the bibliography in Pegge’s Life.[1427] His
letters contain some hints of his scientific works but nothing bearing
on magic or astrology. It used to be stated that Grosseteste certainly
constructed charms to expel maladies, that he invented forms of words
to exorcise fiends, and that he worked cures by engraved gems.[1428]
The ascription to Grosseteste of treatises on Necromancy and Sorcery,
and the Philosopher’s Stone, is, however, false and grew, Baur says,
from marginal glosses appended to one of his genuine works.[1429] What
we shall note in Grosseteste’s works will be mainly his attitude to
experimental science on the one hand and to astrology on the other.

[Sidenote: Scientific writings little affected by his ecclesiastical

In these scientific treatises by Grosseteste there is little to suggest
the Christian bishop. However, in the work “On the Fixity of Motion and
Time” he opposes the Aristotelian doctrine that the universe or motion
of the celestial bodies is eternal.[1430] And in a second treatise, “On
the Order of the Emanation of Things Caused from God,” he expresses the
wish that men would cease to question the scriptural account of the age
and beginning of the world.[1431] A third treatise “On Freedom of the
Will” also lies on the frontier of philosophy and theology.

[Sidenote: Reliance on experience.]

Grosseteste affords us further examples in a number of passages of
that reliance upon experience and reason, that rejection of certain
views as contrary to experience, and yet that acceptance of statements
in old authors as based upon experience, which we saw in Galen and
William of Auvergne’s “experimental books,” and shall see in Albertus
Magnus and the other medieval scientists. Grosseteste speaks, however,
not merely of experience or _experimenta_, but also of experimenters
(_experimentatores_).[1432] We may first note some use of observation
and experience in astronomy and geography. In his treatise on comets
he alludes to “experience in natural things.”[1433] In his treatise
on the Sphere[1434] Bishop Robert declares that the sphericity of
the earth and of all the stars and planets “is shown both by natural
reasons and astronomical experiences,” that is, in the case of the
earth, by the observations of the sky by men in different parts of
the earth. In the same work he says that Thabit ben Corra (836-901
A. D.) working over the operations of Ptolemy, “found by certain
experiments that the motion of the fixed stars was different.”[1435]
Likewise in his treatise _On the Generation of the Stars_ Grosseteste
remarks of one contention that “experience shows the contrary” and of
another view that it “is against both experience and reason.”[1436]
Again in writing _Of the Nature of Places_ he adduces in support of
his positions “experiments and reasons,” and “divers authors and
experimenters.”[1437] The old legend of the Hyperboreans who dwell
among mountains near the pole in such a salubrious and temperate
climate that they live on and on until they tire of life and commit
voluntary suicide by leaping off cliffs into the sea, Grosseteste
introduces by the statement: “It has also been found by experience, as
authors tell”--among whom he names Pliny, Solinus, and “Marcianus in
his geometry.”

[Sidenote: Theory of vision and science of perspective.]

In the realm of physics Grosseteste not only mentions experience in
discussing vision and what he calls Perspective but also brings to
our notice a recent or approaching experimental discovery, that of
magnifying lenses. In his treatise on the rainbow he makes a rather
unpromising beginning. After arguing whether the sense of sight
operates by the eye receiving something within itself, as natural
philosophers are prone to hold, or by sending forth a visual species
or rays, he decides as was usual with men of his time in favor of
the latter alternative.[1438] He cites Aristotle in his last book on
animals as saying that a man with deep-set eyes sees farther because
his visual virtue is not spread or scattered but goes straight--as if
from a long-barreled gun--to the things seen.

[Sidenote: Experimental discovery of lenses.]

Grosseteste then goes on to say that there are three parts of
Perspective. The first is that concerning the sight with which he has
just been dealing. The second concerns mirrors. The third has been
“untouched and unknown among us until the present time. Yet we know
that Aristotle completed this third part”--he of course did nothing
of the sort--“and that it is much more difficult in its subtlety and
far more wonderful in its profound knowledge of natures than the
other parts. For this branch of Perspective thoroughly known shows us
how to make things very far off seem very close at hand and how to
make large objects which are near seem tiny and how to make distant
objects appear as large as we choose, so that it is possible for us
to read the smallest letters at an incredible distance, or to count
sand or grain or grass or any other minute objects.”[1439] So far the
passage reads as if it might be merely the exaggerated dream of fancy.
But Grosseteste proceeds to state “how these marvels happen,” which
seems to be by the breaking up of “the visual ray”--or as we should
say, by the refraction of rays of light--as it passes through several
transparent objects or lenses of varying nature. He explains also that
great distance does not make an object invisible but the narrowness of
the angle under which it is seen.[1440] This he proceeds to illustrate
“by experiments” (_per experimenta_). Again in his treatise on comets
he mentions “those who have experienced that by a transparent figure
interposed between the spectator and the object seen it is possible
that the thing seen should be multiplied and that great things seem
small and conversely according to the shape given the interposed
transparent object.”[1441] I have given as far as possible a literal
translation of Grosseteste’s words on this point in order to convey his
exact or inexact meaning. If these passages are not a sufficient proof
that magnifying lenses of some sort were already discovered, they at
least point the way to the microscope and telescope, and we know that
eye-glasses for nearsightedness were in use at the latest by the end
of the thirteenth century.

[Sidenote: Mentioned also in _The Romance of the Rose_.]

Very similar and perhaps copied from this very treatise of Grosseteste
on the rainbow--or from its source (Al-Hazen)--are some verses in the
continuation of the French _Romance of the Rose_ written by Jean de
Meun, probably about 1270. Besides remarking of rainbows that--the
words are Ellis’ translation--[1442]

    “Only he who’s learned the rule
    Of optics in some famous school
    Can to his fellow men explain
    How ’tis that from the sun they gain
    Their glorious hues;”

the poet mentions burning-glasses and various types of mirrors, and
also tells us that from optics one

    “... may learn the cause
    Why mirrors, through some subtle laws
    Have power to objects seen therein--
    Atoms minute or letters thin--
    To give appearance of fair size,
    Though naked unassisted eyes
    Can scarce perceive them. Grains of sand
    Seem stones when through these glasses scanned.”

The poet adds that by these glasses one can read letters from such a
distance that one would not believe it unless he had seen it. Then he

    “But to these matters blind affiance
    No man need give; they’re proved by science.”

[Sidenote: Theories formed by experimenters with lenses.]

Returning to Grosseteste and experimental method we may note his
mention in the same treatise upon comets of “those who reflect and
experiment in natural phenomena and form their opinions from their
experiments without foundation of reasons.”[1443] Grosseteste holds
that such experimenters “necessarily fall into false notions concerning
the natures of comets,” because they try to explain them as reflected
rays and the like after the analogy “of their varied experiments which
they have employed in radiations and the producing of fires”--probably
by burning glasses--“and by what is seen through the medium of lenses”
(_diaphanorum_). The important point for us, however, is not whether
these men were wrong about comets, but their varied experimentation and
their basing of hypothesis upon their experiments.

[Sidenote: Mathematical physics: the radiation of virtue.]

In view of Grosseteste’s interest in physical and astronomical matters,
and his training, if we believe Bacon, for some thirty or forty years
in mathematics, it is not surprising that he realized something of the
value of mathematics in the study of natural science. He believed that
a knowledge of geometry was of great aid to the “diligent investigator
of natural phenomena” in explaining the causes of all natural effects.
In a treatise “On lines, angles and figures,” or “On refraction and
reflexion of rays,” Grosseteste holds that not only vision or light
but every natural agent sends forth its virtue to the object affected
and acts upon sense or matter along geometrical lines.[1444] This
doctrine of radiation or emanation of force seems to date back at
least to Plotinus, and we have heard Alkindi among the Arabs in his
treatise on Stellar Rays say that the stars and all objects in the
world of the four elements emit rays of this sort. From any given agent
virtue radiates forth in all directions, but a perpendicular line is
the shortest and strongest line of force between it and any other
single point or object. From a point or center of influence to a larger
surface we get pyramids or cones of radiated force. The same theory is
set forth by Roger Bacon under the name “multiplication of species”
but even this wording is not new with him, since Grosseteste speaks of
the natural agent as “multiplying its virtue” from itself to the thing
affected, and then explains that this virtue is also sometimes called
“species” and sometimes “similitude” and is the same in whatever way
it is named.

[Sidenote: The _Computus_ and calendar reform.]

The _Computus_, or treatise on reckoning time and keeping track of
Easter especially and also other church festivals, had been a variety
of mathematical and astronomical exercise indulged in by the clergy
even in the darkest periods of the early middle ages. The _Computus_ of
Grosseteste pointed out the need of reforming the Julian calendar then
in use, and he also called attention to this need in his treatise on
_The Sphere_. From the later use made of it by Roger Bacon[1445] and by
Cardinal Pierre d’Ailly[1446] in the early fifteenth century one infers
that Grosseteste’s _Computus_ remained an authoritative work upon the
subject of calendar reform.[1447]

[Sidenote: Juggling with numbers.]

On one occasion at least Grosseteste’s interest in mathematics
degenerated into one of those puerile reveries on the relations
and perfection of certain numbers in which so many authors since
Pythagoras, if not before him, had indulged. Having stated that in “the
supreme body” there are four things, namely, form, matter, composition
and compound, Grosseteste states that form is represented by the
number one, matter by two, and composition by three, “since there is
patent in it formed matter and materialized form and the property of
composition itself.”[1448] The compound besides these three things has
its own nature and so is represented by four. Now 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10.
“Wherefore every whole and perfect thing is ten.”

[Sidenote: From mathematics to astronomy to astrology.]

That Grosseteste’s “mathematics” includes astr