ANATOMYZING INTRO: NOTES ON THE REDEMPTION OF THE ELEMENTS IN GRECO-EGYPTIAN ALCHEMY Subject Headings: Pythagoreanism C.

Anne Wilson. “Jabirian Numbers, Pythagorean Numbers and Plato’s Timaeus.” Ambix 35.1 (March 1988): 1-13. (4) “The emendation can no longer stand now it has been shown that Physika kai Mystika in its original form was written within the sphere of the Platonising Pythagoreanism of the third and second centuries B.C., and was not derived from pseudo-Ostanes treatises.” (4) “The clinching argument with regard to Timaeus as source material is the origin and meaning of the repeated phrases ‘One nature delights in/conquers/over-rules another nature’ which appears in one or another of the three versions at the end of each chemical recipe in Physika kai Mystika. In Tim. 56d-e, Plato's description of the changes of the elements starts with the upward cycle, when he explains how 1 corpuscule of water is broken up to form 2 of air plus 1 of fire; and 1 corpuscule of air is broken up to form 2 corpuscules of fire. The downward cycle begins when a small quantity of fire is enclosed by a large quantity of air and water, and it is ‘conquered’ (nikethen), so that 2 corpuscules of fire unite to make 1 of air. And when the air itself is ‘over-ruled’ (kratethen), then 2 ½ corpuscules of air (the equivalent of the 2 of air plus I of fire above) form 1 of water. Those same two verbs (nikan; kratein) were taken into Physika kai Mystika to describe the upward path of the elements or physeis as they succeeded one another in the order: water, air, fire, chemically expressed as silver, fleeting gold and fixed gold; as the result of the experiments outlined in the recipes.” (5) “The influence of the tetraktys number for earth, the 4, can be recognized elsewhere in Greek protochemistry. The fourfold nature of earth is expressed in the so-called tetrasōmata, an amalgam of four base metals, e.g. copper, tin, lead and iron, … which represented earth at ordinary temperatures, but became ‘fusible water’ (Tim. 58d) when heated; and could thus comprise

8) (8) Fire and water are odd numbers. once the concept of nature (physis) had entered into Greek thought in the later fifth century B.C. Ocean with water. with the other two numbers assigned to the two intermediate realms. by the 4. The relative positions of the four realms were Earth. Ocean. Heaven. JK—Is this why metals are seen as “fusible water.a starting ingredient for experiments designed to bring ‘fourfold’ earth ultimately to the state of ‘single’ fire. {Parmenides citation: frag. beyond Ocean.” (5) Originally the tetraktys “may have been linked with the four realms of creation referred to by Homer and Hesiod: Heaven. Hades with wind and misty air. Air and water are the 2 intermediate terms between fire and earth. and this supports “the view that the polarisation between the elements fire and earth which underlies Plato's treatment of the four elements in Timaeus has Pythagorean origins. Where is this in relation to Aer/aether/Hades? Is there any significance to Hades being adjacent to Heaven/Fire?} left at sl 9 . containing soul? Aer is 2. and Earth. Heaven could have been represented by the 1 of the tetraktys. so it would not have been too difficult to substitute those four ‘roots’ or elements of ever-flowing / nature. Parmenides attacked this duality as representing “the opinions of mortal men” (7).” and why gold is the most precious substance. 15). beyond and above Hades. and is female. Hades. next to Earth. and Earth with earth. {See Kingsley: is aether male or female? Pythagoreans sometimes said the soul goes to the fiery aether akin to itself.” However. c. Ocean and Earth. furthest from it. though later commentators change it to male. The soteriological implications would [have explained] why the experiments in chemistry carried out by the so-called School of Democritus were intended to ‘heal the soul and release it form all grief’ (Physika kai Mystika.” (5-6) “Each realm had an association with a particular element: Heaven with light. and thus are male. and thus with fire. Hades.” (6) The Pythagorean “table of opposites” has “Light: Darkness” as its eighth pair.

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