Friday, January 27, 2017

Library. Camerarius. Symbola et Emblemata

Title: Symbolorum et Emblematum Centuriae Quatuor = 400 Symbols and Emblems
Author: Joachim Camerarius (Wikipedia)
Edition: 1668
Online Source: Hathi Trust

These are not alchemy books, but they are emblem books from the natural world, and as such you will see a lot of overlap in the symbolic and emblematic language. Camerarius published four books of emblems — plants, animals, birds, and reptiles — 100 emblems in each book, with each emblem accompanied by a Latin distich along with an essay in Latin. Later, these four books were then collected into a single volume, Symbolorum et Emblematum Centuriae Quatuor, which is what I have listed above. To find the single volumes, with much higher quality page scans, visit the University of Munich Digital Library: plantsanimalsbirdsreptiles.

Here is an example where Camerarius (reptiles 83) includes a symbol beloved of the alchemists also: the ouroboros:

Rebus in humanis adeo in se cuncta recurrunt,
   Finis ut unius sit caput alterius.

In human affairs, (in humanis rebus) all things (cuncta) revolve into one another (recurrunt in se) such that (adeo us) the tail-end of one thing (finis unius) is the head-start of another (sit caput alterius).

I made a poster for this one as part of my Latin distich project:

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