Alchemy discussion forum Home

 Moderated by: alchemyd  
AuthorPost
Carl Lavoie
Member
 

Joined: Wed Feb 25th, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 215
Status:  Offline
Good day everyone,

There is a detail in the ‘Democrite’ engraving of Maier’s Symbola Aurea Mensae that I just can’t make out; and I've never read a commentary about that very plate that even make mention of it.

It is about this odd human shape, close to the head of Venus. It can’t possibly be part of the background, or compared to the port at the same level, it would stand a good 500 yards tall!

Now, in the pictorial tradition of the time, it was conventional to depict the human soul coming forth from the mouth of a moribund (like in the Ars moriendi scenes).

Could this figure has been put there to depict its “spirit” coming out, or the “soul of copper”, something akin to that? It’s rather obscure to me.

Maybe someone have an explanation to propose to elucidate this cryptic detail.



Last edited on Tue May 26th, 2009 12:35 am by Carl Lavoie

Tom Willard
Member


Joined: Mon May 5th, 2008
Location: Tucson, Arizona USA
Posts: 95
Status:  Offline
I suspect you are right to see the ars moriendi symbolism here.

The words above the illustration seem to hold the key:

PHARMACO IGNITO SPOLIANDA densi est corporis umbra

Democritus here is the pharmacus (poisoner/healer) who must despoil the body's dense shadow. He points to Venus, but the figure to her right must be that of the old man collapsing to her left.

Carl Lavoie
Member
 

Joined: Wed Feb 25th, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 215
Status:  Offline
Thank you Mr. Willard,

I thought soul/spirit based on an artistic convention of the time, but dense shadow (as impurities to purge?) holds water even better!

Regarding the old man on her left, I would hold that the 'shadow' is not his, but hers. Actually, I saw in him her very consort: lame, humpbacked, hammer and fire; pretty much all the symbolical attributes.

But what about the cup? What if "Pharmaco" was declined from Pharmacum instead (ablative case)? It could thus refer to a corrosive, or maybe even more to a cupellation:

[By means of] this fiery medicine brought to bareness, dense is the body’s shadow.

Last edited on Tue May 26th, 2009 06:35 pm by Carl Lavoie

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1499
Status:  Offline
Carl Lavoie wrote:
Thank you Mr. Willard,

I thought soul/spirit based on an artistic convention of the time, but dense shadow (as impurities to purge?) holds water even better!

Regarding the old man on her left, I would hold that the 'shadow' is not his, but hers. Actually, I saw in him her very consort: lame, humpbacked, hammer and fire; pretty much all the symbolical attributes.

But what about the cup? What if "Pharmaco" was declined from Pharmacum instead (ablative case)? It could thus refer to a corrosive, or maybe even more to a cupellation:

[By means of] this fiery medicine brought to bareness, dense is the body’s shadow.


I read 'ignito pharmaco' as an ablative absolute: 'the drug having been ignited, the dense shadow of the body must be stripped away'.

Carl Lavoie
Member
 

Joined: Wed Feb 25th, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 215
Status:  Offline
I read 'ignito pharmaco' as an ablative absolute

Convincing and elegant. Thank you.  I had in mind Ignito in its meaning of “purifying by fire”, but should have think more pragmatically.

'the drug having been ignited, the dense shadow of the body must be stripped away'

Could he refer here to antimony sulphide, Agricola’s stibium ?

(“ but in order that the stibium should not consume the gold, it is melted with copper [=Venus] in a red hot earthen crucible.”)

Neil J Mann
Member
 

Joined: Thu Feb 14th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 15
Status:  Offline
Coming on this very late, but just to note that "densi" goes with "corporis", so it's the "shadow of the dense body".




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez