Saturday, December 24, 2016

Roos. Alchemy and Mysticism (1)

So, I got a Christmas present for myself, a lovely picture book from Taschen: Alchemy and Mysticism by Alexander Roos. I'm going to work through 10 pages per day (hopefully), and see just how many of these image resources I can find also in online versions! I'll label these posts as Roos to collect them.


The first topic of the Introduction is Hermes Trismegistus, with an image of The Emerald Tablet from Khunrath's Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae, 1606. Roos includes this famous quote from a Hermetic text: "The below is as the above, and the above as the below, to perfect the wonders of the One."

There is a pair of lovely images from M. Maier, Atalanta fugiens, 1618: "The wind bears it in its belly," and "Its nurse is the Earth."

He emphasizes the pictures as code with a quote from the Rosarium philosophorum: "But where we have written something in code and in picture we have concealed the truth."

Hermaphrodite: supposed to be read as blend of sensual stimulus (Aphrodite) and intellectual appeal (Hermes).

Roos mentions the interpretation of the Egyptian hieroglyphs (prior to their decipherment by Champollion) as a "symbolic, rebus-like, esoteric script." I did some work on Horapollo back in graduate school; this sounds like a good excuse to drag those notes out again! Roos includes some of Durer's illustrations for Horapollo.

There is a wonderful emblem of Hermes from Achilles Baccius, Symbolicarum quaestionum (1555), with a Greek saying attributed to Simonides: After having spoken, I have often repented, but never after having kept silent.

Okay, I'll stop there and see what I can find online for these books!

... yes!

Amphitheatrvm sapientiae aeternae : solius verae, christiano-kabalisticvm, divino-magicvm, nec non physico-chymicvm, tertrivnvm, catholicon / instructore Henrico Khvnrath. Hathi Trust.

He has his dog with him on the title page! :-)

There are some astounding images here; this is the one Roos included:

I will have to come back to this book and browse!

And there are LOTS of copies of Atalanta fugiens : hoc est, Emblemata nova de secretis naturae chymica / athore Michaele Majero. Hathi Trust.

Here are the images Roos included:

And here is Achillis Bocchii Bonon. Symbolicarvm quaestionvm de vniverso genere qvas serio lvdebat libri qvinqve. Hathi Trust. This one is my favorite so far; I will definitely be coming back to this one! Here is the Hermes that Roos included with the Simonides quote below the figure of Hermes. There is also a Latin superscription: MONAS MANET IN SE, "the one abides in itself."

And it took some sleuthing, but it's possible to learn about Durer's illustrations for Horapollo here: Die Hieroglyphenkunde des Humanismus in der Allegorie der Renaissance by Karl Giehlow (1915). Hathi Trust. See especially the illustrations at p. 173 and following.

So, for my first chunk of the book, I've been able to find all the illustrations in online editions of the source books that Roos is consulting. I wonder if I will be that lucky for the whole book...?! How cool that would be!

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