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The Artephius mystery
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Sun Oct 21st, 2012 05:18 pm
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For a few years now I have stumbled across mention of Artephius.  Firstly I've been trying to get hold of as many medieval and 16th century alchemical texts in English as possible, but the Book of secrets attributed to him on Adam's website has always smelt suspicious to me, the claim of being 12th century not really fitting with what I know of the substances and language used.  Secondly in places like wikipedia you see a lot of unreferenced claims about him being arabic or whatever and discovering all sorts of things he didn't discover.

So I finally got around to doing some research. 

It seems that mentions of him are few and far between, with more in the post medieval period.  But enough from Roger Bacon and others to suggest that he or someone/ people writing under his name existed in the 12/13th century, and wrote a "book of secrets" and "Key of wisdom".  However drawing a connection between the medieval period and the text on Adams website, drawn from Lapidus' book "In pursuit of gold", seems to be rather difficult. 

A text available online that claims to be drawn from Lapidus' book links the claimed Artephius text back to "The secret book of Artephius", printed in 1614 in a collection with a Flamel book which has already been brought up on this board, to do with the 'author' Eireneaus Orandus:

http://www.alchemydiscussion.com/view_topic.php?id=347&forum_id=8

Whether this 17th century text is the same as the one that Lapidus reproduces is unknown to me.  Moreover, this text is definitely suspect, what with its connection with the known fake Flamel, with suspicions being brought up here:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TOhajbOpKRIC&pg=PA77&dq=flamel+eirenaeus+orandus&hl=en&ei=ojqzS7_dMdCG4gbHn8DiAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=re

Finally, it seems that information about Artephius has been gathered in an article:

G. Levi Della Viola, "Something More about Artephius and his 'Clavis Sapientiae," Speculum,
13 (1938) , p. 80

Which I shall look up next time I am in the NLS. 

I don't suppose anyone has come across any more information anywhere?

P.s. - I'm sure there's a book idea in there somewhere, the trick is coming up with a suitably dramatic and apocalyptic reason to be concerned about who Artephius was and what he knew. 

Last edited on Sun Oct 21st, 2012 05:19 pm by Alexander Guthrie Stewart

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sun Oct 21st, 2012 10:50 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:


Finally, it seems that information about Artephius has been gathered in an article:

G. Levi Della Viola, "Something More about Artephius and his 'Clavis Sapientiae," Speculum,
13 (1938) , p. 80

Which I shall look up next time I am in the NLS. 




I think the Della Viola is a follow-on article to Austin's paper in the previous issue:

Austin, H.D. 1937. "Artephius-Orpheus." Speculum 12: 251–54.

Thorndike (vol. 4, p. 354) identifies him with the poet and alchemist Altughra'i (d. 1128) about whom I can find nothing.

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 12:50 pm
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Thanks, that's something else to look up.

Thorndike volume 4 has a mention of Artephius on page 531, but you actually mean volume 2, page 354, for which he references Gildermeister in Zeitsch. d. Deutsch. Morgenl. Ges. XXXIII cited by Lippman (1919) page 408.  Which is E O von lippman, "Entstehung und Ausbreitung der Alchemie".

I really doubt if any of the members of this forum have a copy of that. 

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 12:58 pm
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Sorry, quite right. Seems to be Book V of Volume II, in the section on William of Auvergne, p. 354:

http://archive.org/stream/historyofmagicex02thor/historyofmagicex02thor_djvu.txt

The Von Lippmann can be consulted here :o)

http://archive.org/details/entstehungundaus00lippuoft

Last edited on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 01:02 pm by Paul Ferguson

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2012 07:33 pm
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I've been in and read the articles.

The Della Viola article was the most useful - he completely discounts Gildermeister:
The identification of Artefius with the Arabic poet and alchemist of the 11th to 12th century at-ToghraI, although still held worthy of discussion by huistorians of scienc, is without foundation; not only does this identification lack any serious palaeographic basis, but it relies only upon a supposed identity which was assumed more than sixty years ago by Gildemeister, Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenlandishen Gessellschaft, XX (1876), 538 with the alchemical work by Toghrai, Mafatih ar-rahma wa-masabih al-hikma, "The keys of mercifulness and thte lamps of wisdom" (See C. Brockelmann, Gesichte der arabischen Literatur, I. Supplementband Leiden 1937, page 440...)
But a simple glance at the summary of its contents as given in the catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts in PAris (le baron de Slane, Catalogue des manuscrits arabes Paris 1883-1895, page 473) shows that the book of Toghrai has nothing to do with the Latin Clavis Sapientiae.  The danger of such uncontrolled hypotheses is nowhere better revealed than in the fact that, under Gildermeisters influence, the author of a remarkable essayt on the physics of Bacon (Seb Vogel, Die Physik Roger Bacons S}Diss. Erlangen, 1906, p 35) mentions, as if it werea matter of fact, 'das Original zum Schlussel in der Bibliotheque Nationale zu Paris nr 2614.

He reckons the actual origin may well be that Orpheus and Artephius are very similar in Arabic, so a scribal error may have produced someone who never existed at all.  That at least accounts for the Orpheus/ Artephius mix up written about by Austin.

The interesting thing is that he found a 13/14th century Coptic copy of an Arabic original of the Keys of wisdom in the Vatican library, missing some leaves from front and back.  Then he found other bits of the same book in Constantinople, from which he was able to piece it all together.   It seems it was attributed to Ibn Umail, although it is clear he didn't actually write it. 

The Latin printed text of the book is missing much of the information about the role of the elements in the creation of the world, and compared to th Arabic original is compressed, transposed and some parts suppressed. 

So much for the Keys of wisdom.  I suppose the question is, what was Roger Bacon reading that made him think so highly of Orpheus/ Artephius?  It seems likely that the scribal error was made many times, but who confused the two people in the first place?  (Having said that, Della Viola wasn't dogmatically certain that this was the cause of the existence of Artephius, but it seemed very likely to him)

Della Viola ends with the traditional invitation for someone else with more time and energy to translate and publish the Keys of Wisdom. 

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Tue May 27th, 2014 03:19 am
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
 

A text available online that claims to be drawn from Lapidus' book links the claimed Artephius text back to "The secret book of Artephius", printed in 1614 in a collection with a Flamel book which has already been brought up on this board, to do with the 'author' Eireneaus Orandus:

http://www.alchemydiscussion.com/view_topic.php?id=347&forum_id=8

Whether this 17th century text is the same as the one that Lapidus reproduces is unknown to me.  Moreover, this text is definitely suspect, what with its connection with the known fake Flamel


The 1612 edition of Pierre Arnauld's translation of Artephius is here:

http://tinyurl.com/q2aw48x

Several other editions available at Google Books.

Last edited on Tue May 27th, 2014 03:21 am by Paul Ferguson

Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Tue May 27th, 2014 04:17 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
Thorndike (vol. 4, p. 354) identifies him with the poet and alchemist Altughra'i (d. 1128) about whom I can find nothing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Tughrai

This one?

Also see: http://www.washacadsci.org/Journal/Journalarticles/ZosimosText.H.S.ElKhadem.pdf

Zosimos is the ultimate author of the 'Keys of Wisdom', apparently. After reviewing the material in this thread, I personally do not think it is such a stretch to hypothesize that Artephius = al-Tugra'i (actually quoting/translating Zosimos).

Glauber also mentions Artephius quite a bit, and thought him to be a genuine ancient alchemist. He wrote a treatise on the "Secret Fire of Philosophers" which he says is the "Secret Fire of Artephius".

Search Artephius in this PDF for the relevant passages:
https://archive.org/details/worksofhighlyexp00glau

Last edited on Tue May 27th, 2014 04:55 pm by Daniel_Burnham


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