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Democritos etc translations
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Wed Jan 26th, 2011 01:34 pm
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I don't suppose anyone has translated the Physika kai Mystika into English from the Greek?  I've read that Berthelot is a bit free with his translation, I have Halleux's Zosimos on order, but don't seem to see the P et M anywhere.  My French is a bit ropy since I havn't used it since school which was disturbingly in the last century.  My interests in the texts are a little broader than average, and the many popular books on alchemy tend to quote only the same small sections of the Graeco-Egyptian texts every time, and tend to summarise the rest, potentially missing out what I am interested in.

I've also been reading the alchemy academy archive from the last century.  There are many useful references on there, so thank you to everyone who contributed to it.

 

Alan Pritchard
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 Posted: Wed Jan 26th, 2011 02:41 pm
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I have record of a translation by Steele.

The treatise of Democritus. On things natural and mystical. Translated by Robert R. Steele. Chem News 61(1578) 21 Feb 1890, 88-89. http://www.alchemywebsite.com/steele_democritus.html.
ibid (1579) 28 Feb 1890, 101¬EN¬102; ibid (1580) 7 Mar 1890, 113¬EN¬114; ibid (1581) 14 Mar 1890, 125. Also reprinted, 4pp.

John Koopmans & I transcribed it. I don't know how complete Steele's translation is.

It looks as though Steele's articles are reprinted in Stan Linden's Alchemy reader.

You could also try
Wilson, C. Anne. Philosophers, Iÿ3sis and water of life. Proc Leeds Phil Lit Soc: Literary and Historical Section 19(5) 1984, 86¬EN¬93, 101¬EN¬219.
It is generally agreed that the study of chemistry in the classical world originated in Hellenistic Egypt. But how it arose, for what purpose the chemical experiments were performed, and what sort of legacy these left to the European West, are matters that have never been fully understood. In this new examination of the evidence, particular attention has been paid to the apparent ritual use of experiments in what became known as the Divine and Sacred Art, and to the transmission of the recipe literature.

This is referred to by Sivin at: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=r8sUAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=Physika+kai+Mystika&source=bl&ots=9PhUlSsMHp&sig=YMVUqdEm5IDMQkRc0HatHlFMHL4&hl=en&ei=wUJATZvnBOaAhAfIhYGYCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=Physika%20kai%20Mystika&f=false

Last edited on Wed Jan 26th, 2011 02:55 pm by

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Wed Jan 26th, 2011 02:43 pm
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[Alan beat me to it. The following was written before I saw his posting.]

I cannot think of a translation into English from the original Greek.

There's a translation of a Latin translation by Robert R. Steele in Chemical News 61 (1890) pp. 88-125 entitled 'The Treatise of Democritus on Things Natural and Mystical'. The journal Osiris for 1936 (History of Science Society, Saint Catherine Press) clearly states that this is a translation from the Latin.

If you can brush up your French the publisher Les Belles Lettres have published a new French translation in their series 'Les alchimistes grecs', but it seems to be in a volume that is currently OOP or not yet published (volume 2):

http://www.lesbelleslettres.com/recherche/?fa=recherche&searchtext=alchimistes&ok.x=4&ok.y=9

"Traduction à paraître : Les alchimistes grecs, Les Belles Lettres, vol. 2 : Les vieux auteurs I. Les 'physica et mystica' du Pseudo-Démocrite. Ostanès, Cléopâtre. Comarios. Isis à Horus. Hermès Trismégiste.:
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolos_de_Mend%C3%A8s

The Berthelot is available on-line:

http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/alchimie/table.htm

Last edited on Wed Jan 26th, 2011 03:14 pm by Paul Ferguson

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Wed Jan 26th, 2011 05:38 pm
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Looks as if there is a new critical edition on the way:

http://www.pachs.net/blogs/comments/distilling_ancient_greek_alchemy_from_the_manuscripts/

Martelli's CV is attached.

Attachment: Martelli.pdf (Downloaded 940 times)

Last edited on Wed Jan 26th, 2011 05:43 pm by Paul Ferguson

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Wed Jan 26th, 2011 09:32 pm
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Thanks Alan - I'll probably look up the Steele article, although the alchemy website link to it does not work and is not found by the search engine.

I got Wilson's book last year, it is very interesting, and somewhat broader and more useful than other books. 

 

Paul - Yes, Les Belle Lettres seem to be republishing them, but don't have them all in print yet, it is frustrating.  Mattelli though looks most interesting.  The ancient Greek alchemy from the manuscripts link is not detailed, but seems that Mattelli confirms what most books I have read so far already say about pseudo-Democritus and there being 4 original books.  Certainly it seems likely that Democritus was used as a name because of his wide range of knowledge, but as far as I can understand it, various implications and ideas associated with the atomist school spread into and mutated in Sophism which was then involved in the growth of Hermetism and the birth of alchemy. 

I don't see though how it means a new critical edition is due, although I'd love to see one, especially if it was in English. 

I'd also like to know how Ms Marcianus 299 ended up in Venice, did it come before/ after the fall of Constantinople during the resurgance of Hermetism, or was it purchased much earlier.  I imagine there is a story behind it. 

Alan Pritchard
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 Posted: Thu Jan 27th, 2011 05:53 am
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Sorry. Full stop at end of url was the problem.

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/steele_democritus.html

should work

Alan

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Thu Jan 27th, 2011 09:22 am
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Got it now, thanks.  I wonder why I didn't see it when searching the website?  HMmmm.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Jan 28th, 2011 02:56 am
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Mattelli though looks most interesting. 

I don't see though how it means a new critical edition is due, although I'd love to see one, especially if it was in English. 



Er...

"He focused on the corpus of pseudo-Democritus alchemical texts, which he is currently assembling into a critical edition. He illustrated his talk with slides from these manuscripts, as well as drafts of his critical edition."

I assume it will be in Italian as I think he is doing it for a second doctorate at the University of Pisa. It will be interesting to compare it with the French effort (if that ever appears).

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Fri Jan 28th, 2011 09:40 am
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Ah, right.  Thank you. 


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