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The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle and Medieval Occult Science

Author(s): Lynn Thorndike


Source: The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr., 1922), pp. 229258
Published by: University of Illinois Press
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THE LATIN PSEUDO-ARISTOTLE AND MEDIEVAL


OCCULT SCIENCE
The

immense influence of Aristotle


upon medieval
learning
unduly emphasized.
long been recognized, and sometimes
has been
tendency to speak of it in sweeping
generalities
largely due to a lack of detailed research on the subject based

has
The

the medieval

upon

manuscripts

themselves.

for

Take,

example,

the medieval Latin translations of the works of Aristotle gener


The only investigation
of the problem
ally received as genuine.
as a whole is that of Jourdain made a century ago and now quite
Since then the translations of two or three individ
inadequate.1
ual works have been separately
but the recent
investigated,2
in scope, omits the
work of Grabmann,3 while more general
twelfth
century entirely and is in the main a disappointing
If so little real attention has been given to trans
compilation.
lations of the genuine works of Aristotle,
still less have the
been satisfactorily
writings of the Pseudo-Aristotle
investigated
In this article I propose to give some account?
and surveyed.4
based
the medieval
upon
themselves,
chiefly
manuscripts
some
cases
in
the works have been printed
in early
although
editions?of
those works of the Pseudo-Aristotle
which deal
with natural and more especially occult science.
It is these that
are most closely connected with the Alexander
legend and from
which the vernacular
literature on Alexander doubtless borrowed
1
Amable
Recherches
Jourdain,
critiques sur Vage et Vorigine des traductions
latines d'Aristote,
1843.
Paris,
1819; 2nd edition,
2 Such as P.
"Du
la
o?
latine a connu la physi
Duhem,
temps
scolastique
in Revue de philosophie,
que d'Aristote,"
(1909) pp. 163-78; and C. H. Haskins,
of the Posterior
in Harvard Studies
''Medieval
Versions
in Classical
Analytics,"

Philology, XXV
3Martin
zungen

des XIII

Pseudo-Aristotle.
4
The works
toritate

(1914) pp. 87-105.

Grabmann,

librorum

Forschungen

Jahrhunderts,
of V. Rose,
Aristotelis;

M?nster,
Aristoteles
Munk's

?ber die
1916.

lateinischen
He

gives

Psendepigraphus
"Aristote"

article,

eher set'

Aristoteles-U
but

three pages

and De

or dine

in La France

to the

et aue

litt?raire;
the Aris

Schwab,
Bibliographie
d'Aristote,
1896; R. Shute, History
Paris,
of
totelian Writings,
to antiquity
and in so far
Oxford,
1888; are largely limited
as they deal with the Pseudo-Aristotle
at all, scarcely
reach the middle
ages.

229

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230

Thorndike

some of its stories.5


It is indeed very difficult to distinguish
occult
ascribed to Alexander from those attrib
of
science
works
or to distinguish
the stories told of Alexander
uted to Aristotle
from those found elsewhere.
in the works of the Pseudo-Aristotle
include some of both of these.
I do not,
I shall therefore
to
here
stories of
intend
include
the
medieval
however,
early
in the Pseudo-Callisthenes,
and Nectanebus
Alexander
Julius
to Aristotle
Valerius and his epitomes, the Letter of Alexander
on

the

of

marvels

India,

and

so

on.

These

early

medieval

Greek and Latin bases of the medieval Alexander


legend have
is
rather
of twelfth
been much studied and discussed.
My study
and thirteenth century Latin treatises ascribed to Aristotle and
Alexander which have been largely neglected.6
It is not surprising that many spurious works were attributed
to Aristotle
in the middle
that his
ages, when we remember
came
to
most
the
them
for
part indirectly
through
writings
corrupt

and

translations,

that

some

writing

from

so

great

master was eagerly looked for upon every subject in which they
were interested.
a
It seemed to them that so encyclopedic
on
must
fields
all
and
of
have
touched
they
knowledge
genius
time the departments
often failed to realize that in Aristotle's
of learning had been somewhat different from their own and that
new interests and doctrine had developed
since then. There
was also a tendency to ascribe to Aristotle any work of unknown
or uncertain authorship.
At the close of the twelfth century
of envy
instances
lists among historic
Alexander
Neckam7
his
of
most
back
from
certain
Aristotle's
posterity
holding
subtle writings, which he ordered should be buried with him.
the place of his sepulcher,
At the same time he so guarded
whether by some force of nature or power of art or prodigy of
6Ch.

Gidel,

au moyen
in Assoc. des ?tudes
d'Aristote
?ge,"
uses only the
for the Pseudo-Callisthenes
except
or popular
Similar
Aristotle.
legends concerning
in den Alexanderdichtungen
des Mittelalters,"
"Aristoteles

''La L?gende

grecques, (1874) pp. 285-332,


French
vernacular
literature

in scope isW. Hertz,


d. k. bayr. Akad.
XIX
d. Wiss.,
Classe
in Abhandl.
d. philos.-philol.
(1892)
Abhandlungen,
1905, pp. 1-155.
pp. 1-103; revised inW. Hertz, Gesammelte
6G. H.
et l'universit?
de Paris pendant
who wrote on "Aristote
Luquet,
le XHIe
si?cle" in Bibl. hautes ?tudes, Sciences
2, 1904, announced
relig., XVI,
a general work on the knowledge
middle
ages, but it does not seem
7De naturis
rerum, II, 189.

of Aristotle's
to have

writings

and

teachings

appeared.

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in the

231

The Latin P s eudo-Aristotle

that no one has yet been able to approach it,


magic is uncertain,
some
think
that Antichrist will be able to inspect these
although
books when he comes.
Roger Bacon in the thirteenth century
had written over a thousand works and
believed that Aristotle
complained bitterly because certain treatises, which were prob
had not been translated
into Latin.8
ably really apocryphal,
some
to
the
in
of
ascribed
Aristotle
the
works
Oriental
Indeed,
into Latin,
and Mohammedan
worlds were never translated
De impressionibus
coelestibus which
such as the astrological
or the Syriac text which K. Ahrens edited in
Bacon mentions,
1892 with a German translation as "Das Buch der Naturgegen
in Latin guise after the invention of
st?nde," or first appeared
case
as
was
the so-called Theology of Aristotle,9
the
with
printing,
a work which was little more than a series of extracts from the
of Plotinus.10
Some of the treatises
to
attributed
were current in medieval
Latin do not bear
such as the Grammar which
upon our investigation,

Enneads
Aristotle

which

especially
is said to have translated
from the Greek.11
Robert Grosseteste
For our purposes
the Pseudo-Aristotelian
writings may be
sub-divided under seven heads: experiment,
alchemy, astrology,
of stones and herbs, chiromancy
and
spirits, occult virtues
the
famous
and
last
"Secrets
of
Secrets."
Under
physiognomy,
the first of these heads may be put a treatise on the conduct of
in syphoning
waters, which consists of a series of experiments
and the like illustrated in the manuscript
lettered
and colored
by
a
In
is perhaps
and
Vatican
it
figures
manuscript
diagrams.12
more correctly ascribed to Philo ?f Byzantium.
8
Studii
Compendium
It was
translated
of it was

paraphrase

ed. Brewer,
(1859) p. 473.
an interpolated
840 A.D.;
Latin
at Rome
in 1519, by Pie tro Niccolo
de' Castel

Philosophiae,
into Arabic

published
Aristotelis

about

sive mistica
Stagiritae
Theologia
philosophia,
a
et in latinam
reperta
redacta;
castigatissime
French
at Paris
version
in 1572 (Carra de Vaux, Avicenne,
p. 74).
appeared
F. Dieterici
translated
it from Arabic
in 1883, after publishing
the
into German
lani,?Sapientissimi
secundum
Aegyptios

Arabic
text and
was

text

noviter

time in 1882.
For divergences
between
one of 1519, and citation of Baumgartner
that
as early as 1200, see Grabmann
in Latin
translation
for the first

the Latin

known

this Arabic
the Theology
(1916),

pp.

245-7.
10Indeed
un livre
Carra de Vaux,
p. 73 says, "Tout
Avicenne,
en r?alit? que des extraits des Enneades
contient
IV ? VI de Plotin."
11See Arundel
MS.
165, 14th century.
"Sloane

MS.

2039,

fols.

110-13.

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qui

ne

232

Thorndike

From

to

experiment

is an

alchemy

easy

step,

for

the

alche

a good deal in the period which we are now


experimented
The
fourth
book of the Meteorology
of Aristotle,
considering.
a
not
if
at
least
of
that
goes back
which,
work,
genuine portion
to the third century before Christ,13 has been called a manual
is the oldest such extant.
Its
of chemistry,14
and apparently
are also -believed
to have been influential
in the
doctrines
in this fourth
of alchemy; and there were passages
development
book which led men later to regard Aristotle as favorable to the
doctrine of the transmutation
Gerard of Cremona
of metals.
first
three
books
of the Meteorology;
had translated
the
only
the fourth was supplied from a translation from the Greek made
who died in 1162; to this fourth book
by Henricus
Aristippus
were added three chapters translated by Alfred of England
or

mists

of Sarchel
additions

from the Arabic,15 apparently


of Avicenna.16
These
from Avicenna
discussed
the formation of

of Alfred

11
des Aristote
IV Buch der Meteorologie
"Das sogennante
Hammer-Jensen,
differ from
vol. 50 (1915) pp. 113-36, argues that its teachings
les," in Hermes,
Not
his younger
those of Aristotle
and assigns
it to Strato,
contemporary.
content
than to prove, Hammer
with
this thesis, which
is easier to suggest
that it was
contends
Jensen
influenced
Aristotle
himself
as he is called
by Loveday
lation

of De

coloribus

(1913)

a work

of Strato's

in his

last works.

and
vol. VI

Forster

and that it profoundly


youth
"The
convenient
Strato!"
in

of The Works

the

preface
of Aristotle

to

their

translated

trans
into

under the editorship


of W. D. Ross.
English
14So
(1882)
p. 113 and earlier Heller
Hammer-Jensen,
15
Stadtbibliothek
(centur. V, 59, membr.
N?rnberg

1, 61.
13th century)?cited
cuius tres primos
liber metheororum

est
by Rose, Hermes
1,385?"Completus
summus philosophus
de ar?bico
libros transtulit magister
Lumbardus
Gerardus
in latinum.
in lati
de greco
Henricus
autem
transtulit
Quartum
Aristippus
num.
de ar?bico
Tria ultima
transtulit Aluredus
sarelensis
Anglicus
capitula
in latinum."
Steinschneider
including
(1893) pp. 59 and 84; (1905) p. 7; and others,
of the fourth book from the
Hammer-Jensen,
give the name of the translator
as Aurelius,
as Hermann
Greek
whom
Stein
and of the last three chapters
schneider
hand,
tises.

is more

we know
Evidently

as "otherwise
On the other
correct
unknown."
in describing
trea
and Alfred
translated
other Aristotelian
that Aristippus
the
where
and the others have followed MSS
Steinschneider

copyist has corrupted


16Steinschneider

the proper names.


and Hammer-Jensen
Aurelius
transtulit

"tria vero ultima


from MSS,
quote
Albertus
in latinum."
de ar?bico
capitula
to Avicenna;
others have
the passage
Mineral.
Magnus,
Ill,
i, 9, also ascribed
Brown
See J. Wood
that it is by disciples
of Avicenna.
(1897)
suggested
Sermo de generatione
from Avicenna's
pp. 72-3, for a similar passage
lapidum.
Avicennae

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233

The Latin P s eudo-Aristotle


metals

the alchemists.17
Vincent
of Beauvais18
but attacked
that this
and Albertus Magnus19 were both aware, however,
attack upon the alchemists was probably not by Aristotle.
The
which is included in so many medieval
short treatise On colors
in Latin,21 by
of the works of Aristotle
collections
manuscript
readers that he had been
its very title would suggest to medieval
its actual contents
in the art of alchemy,
interested
although
Its form and
deal only in small part with dyes and tinctures.
contents are not regarded as Aristotle's
but it was perhaps by
someone of the Peripatetic
school.
Thus works which,
if not
at
in
least
had
been
written
Aristotle
Greek
himself,
by
long
readers the impres
before the medieval
period, gave medieval
sion that Aristotle was favorable to alchemy.
It is therefore not surprising that works of alchemy appeared
name.
in medieval Latin under Aristotle's
The names of Plato
and Aristotle
manuscripts
in

preserved

headed
the lists of alchemists
no
works
ascribed to Aristotle
although
had

the

same.

in Arabic,23
Aristotle
teeth century under
On the twelve waters

Berthelot,

however,

speaks

in Greek
have been
of

pseudo

and in an Oxford manuscript


of the thir
the name of Aristotle
appears a treatise
to be "translated
secret
river
the
said
of

17
at Bologna,
Aristotelis
1501, as Liber de mineralibus
They were printed
as Avicenna's,
as Geber's
also published,
sometimes
sometimes
under the
title, Liber de congelatione.
a Latin
BN 16142 contains
of the four books of the Meteorology
translation

and

with

an addition
Liber

dealing with minerals


de mineralibus
Aristotelis,

printed
mists:
published
seq.

by

F.

(cited Hammer-Jensen,
18
naturale,
Speculum
19See note 16 above.

and

geology

which

the passage
omitting
Rev. des Eludes
grecques,

de M?ly,

is briefer
against
(1894)

than

the

the alche
p.

185 et

131).
VIII,

85.

20Greek
text by Prantl,
translation
1881; English
Teubner,
by Loveday
and Forster,
1913.
See also Prantl, Aristoteles
?ber die Farben,
1849.
21
are: Mazarine
3458 and 2459, 13th century;
3460
Just a few examples
and 3461, 14th century; Arsenal
fol. 185; BN 6325, 14th
748A, 15th century,
14-15th
fol. 38-; BN 14717, end 13th
1; BN
14719,
century,
fol. 102-; S. Marco,
13th century, beautifully
16633, 13th century,
fols. 312-17; Assisi
fol. 289-; Volterra
illuminated,
283, 14th century,
19, 14th
fol. 196-.
century,
22Berthelot
et Aristote
sont mis en t?te de la liste des
(1885) p. 143, "Platon

century,

No.

century;

BN

sans qu'aucun
alchimistes
ouvrage
cum?niques
23Berthelot
Bibl.
(1888) I, 76; citing Manget,

leur soit assign?."


I, 622.

Chemica,

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234

Thorndike

In the preface the author promises


from Arabic into Latin."24
becomes
in these
that whoever
skilled,
adept, and expert
never
lose
waters
will
twelve
hope nor be depressed by want.
He regards this treatise as the chief among his works,
since
are all
he has learned these waters
by experiment.
They
a brief "chapter"
or paragraph
chemical rather than medical;
to each.
In another manuscript
at the Bodleian
is devoted
to Aristotle;
one describes
two brief tracts are ascribed
the
seven metals,
the other deals with transmutation.25
In a single
at Munich
both a theoretical
treatise in medicine
manuscript
are attributed
to Aristotle,
and a Practica
and
and alchemy
he is credited with
other manuscripts
the Book of
is
which
sometimes
to Geber.26
ascribed
Seventy Precepts
in the Lumen
cites Aristotle
of Cantimpr?
lumi
Thomas
num as saying that the best gold is made from yellow copper
to add that
ore and the urine of a boy, but Thomas
hastens
The
such gold is best in color rather than in substance.27
of the Lumen luminum is ascribed both to Michael
translation
is quoted
Aristotle
several times
Scot and brother Elias.28
to Albertus Magnus,
ascribed
but only in
in De alchimia,
in two

162, 13th century,


fluminis
translatus

MDigby
aquis secreti
twelve waters
et

ingrediente,
7 aqua
phurea,

fols. lOv-llv,
"Incipit
in latinum."
ab ar?bico

are briefly designated:


4 de aqua eiusdem

liber Aristotelis
In

de

the margin
the
3 mollificativa,

1 rubicunda,
2 penetrativa,
et magnitudinis,
5 ignita, 6 sul
ponderis
In one or two cases, however,
these heads

cineris, 8 aurea, etc.


do not quite apply to the corresponding
chapters.
25Ashmole
de "altitudinibus,
pp. 200-202,
1448, 15th century,
profundis,
in the margin).
Aristotelem
metallorum
secundum
(name,
lateribusque,"
sua ar. nigrum."
est in altitudine
"Plumbum
It takes up in turn
It opens,
the next quality
in the same way.
Cum
studii etc.
Scias preterea
"Arestotilus,
at p. 241 it treats "de purificatione
solis et lune"
quod propter
longitudines";
It ends with a
solis et lune."
(i. e. gold and silver), at p. 243, "de separatione
about the composition
of a golden seal.
paragraph
26CLM
.....
est ars docens.
fol. 46-, "Alchymia
12026, 15th century,
de theorica
in rebus naturalibus;
fol. 78,
dicto libri {sic) Aristotelis
Explicit
the altitudo
Ibid.,

Liber

of each metal

pp.

239-44,

and

then discusses

opens,

de practica
Aristotelis
. . ."

summae

philosophiae,

"Primo

de separatione

salis

communis.

CLM

25110,

15th

century,

fols.

211-45,

CLM

25113,

16th

century,

fols.

10-28, A. de alchimia

Liber

Aristotelis

de
?ber

70 preceptis.
qui dicitur de

70 preceptis.
27
1984, fol. 141 v; in the De natura rerum.
Egerton
28
Riccardian
MS.
119, fols. 35v and 166r.

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235

The Latin P s eudo-Aristotle

to it, where Roger Bacon also is cited,


the later "Additions"
is the specific title Liber de perfecto magisterio
given as Ari
Sometimes

stotle's.29

works

of

were

alchemy

very

carelessly

ascribed to Aristotle, when it is perfectly evident from the works


that they could not have been written
themselves
by him.30
The alchemical discoveries and writings ascribed to Aristotle
are often associated
in some way with Alexander
the Great as
one
In
of the
well.
manuscript
John of Spain's translation
of the virtues and
Secret of Secrets is followed by a description
sent to Alexander
of four stones "which Aristotle
compositions
seems
are philosopher's
It
obvious
these
that
the Great."31
stones and not natural gems.
The Liber ignium of Marcus
in the thirteenth or early fourteenth century,
Grecus, composed
the discovery of two marvelous kinds of fires.
ascribes to Aristotle
One, which he discovered while traveling with Alexander the king,
The other, in the compo
will burn for a year without cessation.
sition of which observance of the dog-days is requisite, "Aristotle
asserts will last for nine years."32
A collection
of chemical
a
of Poland
and
de
experiments
by Nicholas,
Bodlys
perhaps
and Montpellier,
discovered with
gives "a fire which Aristotle
to Alex
Alexander
for obscure places."33 A letter of Aristotle
tracts is hardly worth noting,
ander in a collection of alchemical
as it is only seven lines long, but it is interesting to observe that
it cites Aristotle's Meteorology.
Perhaps by a mistake one or
29
22 and 57.
It was printed with
further "Additions"
of its own
Caps.
in 1561 in Verae
alchemiae
citra aenigmata,
artisque metallicae
1561,
Basel,
11, 188-225.
30Thus
in Auriferae
chemiam
vocant antiquissimi
artis quam
author es,
cites Morienus,
and Avicenna
Basel,
1572, pp. 387-99, a treatise which
Rasis,
as Tractatulus
is printed
de Practica
Aristotelis
lapidis philosophici.
Appar
it to Aristotle
is that it cites "the philosopher"
ently the only reason for ascribing
in its opening
"Cum omne
aut est
secundum
sentence,
corpus
philosophum
aut ab dementis
elementum
generatum."
31Laud
Misc.
fol. 54.
708, 15th century,
32
Berthelot
(1893) 1,105 and 107.
33
Ashmole
1448, 15th century, p. 123.
34Ashmole
fol. 8, "Epistola
1450, 15th century,
ander

rector

hominum.et

audientes

O Alex

ad Alexandrum.

non

Harleian
14th century,
fols. 41r-42r,
3703,
"In primo o elaxandor
tradere
tibi volo secretorum
is a similar treatise.

intelligant."
ad
Aristoteles
maximum

alexandrum.
. .,"

secretum.

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236

Thorndike

two alchemical

treatises

are ascribed

to Alexander

rather

than

Aristotle.35
Aristotle's

works

genuine

give

even

more

to

encouragement

of astrology
than to those of alchemy.
the pretensions
His
were
elements
that
the
four
to explain
insufficient
opinion
and his theory of a fifth essence were
natural phenomena
favorable to the belief in occult virtue and the influence of the
stars upon inferior objects.
In his work on generation36 he held
elements

the

that

were

alone

mere

tools

a workman;

without

the missing agent is supplied by the revolution of the heavens.


In the twelfth book of the Metaphysics
he describes
the stars
and planets as eternal and acting as intermediaries between
th?
and inferior beings.
Thus
prime Mover
they are the direct
causes of all life and action in our world.
Charles Jourdain
of
the
the
introduction
into western
regarded
Metaphysics
at

Europe

the opening
of the thirteenth century
for the great prevalence
of astrology
cause
the other main
being the translation

cause

cipal
time on,

36Ashmole
andri.

Dicunt

insunt

.../...
In the

dra"

there
ciple,
Aristotle.
The

as a prin
from that
of Arabian

14th century,
Allex
fols. 91v-93r,
1384, mid
"Incipit Epistola
sit ex creatione
cui omnia
hominis
quod ars dirivata
philosophi
ex omni specie et colore nomine.
Explicit
epistola Alexan
text itself, which
is written
in the manner
to a dis
of a master
is nothing

following

to

show

is apparently

that

the work

the same

is by Alexander

treatise

but

the closing

rather
words

than

are dif

ferent.
secre
in scientia
fols. 161-3, Liber Alexandri
1165, 15th century,
"Dicitur
cui
hominis
quod hec ars deriva ta sit ex creacione
et deo annuente
ad optatum
omnia insunt
finem pervenies."
.../...
The next would seem to be another
treatise than the foregoing.
Riccard.

nature.

torum

Arezzo
232, 15th century,
ex libro Hermogenis."
is cited
who
Hermogenes,
least one MS

of the Secret

apparently
brief work

the subject
(Bodleian

ab Alexandro

of the philosopher's
67, fol. 33v, "Et

stone
pater

hermogenes
omnem
attribuant

in at
noster

to Alexander;
Harleian
fols. 41r-42r,
3703, 14th century,
et laudant
et sibi
commendunt
(sic) egypti multum
quod
use of the re
secretam
et celerem
scientiam
The
(?)."
in this sentence
to refer to Hermogenes
have
the
I would

pronoun
as it appears

note,

rege

is
dixit"),
philosophando
in a
He is also mentioned

of Aristotle

"...

reader

on

of Secrets

transmissus

est in philosophia
qui triplex
optime
none other than Hermes
Trismegistus.

Hermogenes

flexive

1-14, "Liber

fols.

to illustrate

a fairly

common

medieval

usage.

36II, 9.

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237

The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle

treatises.37
the
astrological
Jourdain did not duly appreciate
hold
which
great
astrology already had in the twelfth century,
true that in the new Aristotle
but it is nevertheless
astrology
found further support.
crops out here and there in most of the spurious
Astrology
works extant under Aristotle's
name, just as it does in the
medieval
One
section of a dozen pages in
learning everywhere.
the Theology discusses
the influence of the stars upon nature
and the working of magic by making use of these celestial forces
and the natural attraction which things have for one another.
It
a
as
artificial
but
and
natural
fraud,
regards
magic
astrological
it is only the animal soul which is
However,
magic as a reality.
affected by magic and the man of impulse who ismoved thereby;
the thinking man can free himself from its influence by use of
the rational soul. In the treatise, De pomo,*8 which seems not to
have been translated
into Latin until the thirteeth
century
on his death bed, holding in his hand
under Manfred,39 Aristotle
an apple from which the treatise takes its title, is represented as
need not fear death and
telling his disciples why a philosopher
the
doctrines
of
the
of the soul and eter
repudiating
mortality
universe.
of
He
also
the
tells
how
the
Creator made
the
nity
spheres and placed lucid stars in each and gave them the virtue
of ruling over this inferior world and causing good and evil and
life or death. They do not, however, do this of themselves, but
men at first thought so and
the stars
erroneously worshiped
until the time of Noah
of

the

the first to recognize

the Creator

spheres.40

37Excursions
381 have
British

who was

historiques,
read

it in an

etc.,

p. 562.

incunabulum

edition

numbered

IA.49867

in the

Museum.
39

"Nos Manfredus
divi augusti
Ibid., fols. 21v-23r,
frederici
imperatoris
dei gratia princeps
tharentinus
honoris montis
sancti angeli dominus
et
illustris r?gis conradi
. . . quern
servi in regno
sicilie
cum
baiulus
librum
non inveniretur
inter cristianos,
eum in ebrayco legimus translatum
de
quoniam
ar?bico
in hebreum,
sanitate
rehabita
ad eruditionem
et de hebrea
multorum
in latinam
in quo a compilatore
lingua transtulimus
recitabilia
inser
quedam
filius

untur.
Nam
dictum
librum aristotiles
non notavit
seu mortis
discere voluerunt
qui causam hylaritatis
tur."
40
Edition No. IA.49867
in the British Museum,

sed notatus
sicut

ab aliis

extitit

in libri serie contine

fols. 25v-26r.

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238

Thorndike

are also attributed


to Aristotle
treatises primarily
on
"Book
A
the
the
of
Elements
and of
Properties
astrological.
is cited under his name by Peter of Abano at the
the Planets"
end of the thirteenth century in his work on poisons,41 by Peter
d'Ailly in his Vigintiloquium42 written in 1414, and by Pico della
There

who declares it spurious, in his work against astrol


Mir?ndola,
at the close of the fifteenth century.
and
written
ogy
D'Ailly
Pico cite it in regard to the theory of great conjunctions;
Abano,
for a tale of Socrates and two dragons which we shall repeat
later. It is probable that all these citations were from the para
on the work by Albertus Magnus43
phrase of and commentary
it as a genuine writing of Aristotle.
who accepted
In a manuscript
of the Cotton
collection
in the British
to
is a work of some length upon astrology
ascribed
Museum
in which the
After a discussion of general principles
Aristotle.44
planets,

signs,

and

houses

are

treated,

there

are

separate

books

upon the subjects of nativities,45 and of elections and interroga


a treatise on interrogations
is
tions.46 In a Paris manuscript
a
to
"Aristoteles
in a marginal
ascribed
Milesius,
heading
commen
In
in
the
Cotton
Manuscript
Peripatetic physician."47
taries which then follow, and which are labelled as commentaries
is mentioned
rather
treatise" Ptolemy
"upon the preceding
In an astrological manuscript
of the fifteenth
than Aristotle.48
century

at Grenoble

41
Cap. 4.
42Verbum
4.
43De
causis
edition

of Albert's

written

et proprietatibiis
works; Albert

in French,

elementorum,
in his
himself

works

IX,
treatise

of Messahala

585-653

and

in Borgnet's
cites the

on Minerals

et planetarum."
as "Liber de causis proprietatum
elementorum
44Cotton
in scientia
est
fol.
"liber
iste
aristotelis
8r,
ipsius
VI,
Appendix
astronomic"
45 fol.
opens, "Superius
prout potuimus
llv, "Alius liber de nativitatibus";
title

partem
explevimus."
promissorum
48 fol.
constellationibus
alius liber;" opens,
"Unde
13r, "De electionibus
dixerimus."
This book intermin
nativitates
satis dilucide
imitantes
egyptios
and ends at fol. 20v, "Finit
and elections,
of interrogations
gles the subjects
liber de interrogationibus."
47BN
in
milesii medici
"liber arystotelis
16208, fol. 76r?,
perypathetici
astronomorum
in interrogationibus."
iudiciorum
principiis
48Cotton
commentum
fol. 20v, "Incipit
super praemissa
VI,
Appendix
tractatus.
ad litteram superioris
librum" fol. 23v, "Expositio
scilicet praedictum
. . ."
rex.
et excellentissimus
summus
Ptolomaeus
egyptiorum
philosophus

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239

The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle

Za? translated for Charles V of France are preceded by "a book


to Aristotle,"
of judicial astrology according
which opens with
of
the
last
and is in four parts.49
"the preface
translator,"
contain, like a
Perhaps both the above-mentioned
manuscripts
at Munich,
"The book of judgments which is
third manuscript
to be Aristotle's."50
said by Albert in his Speculum
This work
also

occurs

in a manuscript

at Erfurt.51

Roger

was

Bacon

much

an

treatise ascribed
to Aristotle
astrological
impressed by
and
entitled De impressionibus
told
coelestibus,
Pope Clement IV
of the Latins and
that it was "superior to the entire philosophy
can

be

translated

by

order."52

your

A treatise found in two manuscripts


of the Bodleian Library
on Astrology and The
Aristotle
bears the titles, Commentary
of
book of Aristotle from two hundred and fifty-five volumes of the
Indians, containing a digest of all problems, whether pertaining to
From the text itself and the
the sphere or to genethlialogy.
the
of
twelfth century
translator
Sanctellensis,
Hugh
preface
to his lord, Michael,
from Arabic into Latin, addressed
bishop
of Tarazona, we see that the work is neither entirely by Aristotle
nor from the books of the Indians but is a compilation by some
one who draws or pretends to draw from some 250 or 255 books54
to treatises by both
of the philosophers,
including in addition
and the Indians, 13 books by Hermes,
13 by Doronius
Aristotle
one
4
two by Plato,
(Dorotheus?),
by Democritus,
by Ptolemy,
7 by Antiochus,
44 by the Babylonians,
and others by authors
to me and probably misspelled
whose names are unfamiliar
in
49
le livre de jugemens d'astrolo
Grenoble
814, fols. 1-24.
"Cy commence
Le prologue
du derrenier
translateur.
Aristote
fist un
gie selon Aristote.
. . ."
livre de jugemens.
60CLM
fols. 1-12, "liber de iudiciis qui ab Alberto
25010, 15-16th century,
suo dicitur esse Aristotelis."
in Speculo
61
377, 14th century,
Quarto
Amplon.
it with
Schum
identifies
the work ascribed

astrorum.
fols. 25-36, de iudiciis
to Aristotle
in the Specu
by Albert

lum astronomiae.

62
Bridges (1897) I, 381, 389-90; Brewer (1859) p. 473.

63
159, 14th century,
Digby,
tilis de ducentis
lvque Indorum
circularium
quam
genecialium
prologus.
Incipit Aristotelis
which I have chiefly followed.
Savile Latin
64 In the text

15 (Bernard
the number

fols. 87, mutilated

at the end.

universalium
voluminibus,
summam
At
continens."

commentum

6561),
is given

in astrologiam."

"Liber Aristo

tam
questionum
fol. 5v, "Explicit
This

15th century,
fols. 185-204v,
as ccl; see Digby
159, fol. 2r.

is the MS
is similar.

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240

Thorndike

In one of the works of Aristotle


of which the
the manuscripts.
are
to
is
make
there
to have
said
use,
supposed
present work
of
the
twelve
thousand
nativities
collected
been described
men,
basis for astrology.55
in an effort to establish an experimental
It is not so surprising that the present work bears Aristotle's
in the pro
name, since Hugh had promised his patron Michael,
the
of
of
Hanus
ben
his
translation
to
Hanne,56
Geometry
logue
was given he would next
that if life endured and opportunity
set to work as ordered by his patron, not only upon Haly's
on the Quadripartite
and Almagest of Ptolemy,
commentaries
but also upon a certain general commentary
by Aristotle on the
entire art of astrology.
is immediately
The Secret of Secrets of the pseudo-Aristotle
or
treatises
addressed to
followed in one manuscript
by chapters
Alexander and entitled, Of ideas and forms, Of the impression of
The theory, very like that of
forms, and Of images and ringst
are ruled by supercelestial
"all
that
forms
is
maintained
Alkindi,
forms through the spirits of the spheres" and that incantations
The seven
and images receive their force from the spheres.
to our
on
ideas
and
forms
these
supercelestial
planets pass
one
times
for
inferior world.
proper
operating
By selecting
can work good or ill by means of the rays and impressions of the
The scientific investigator who properly concentrates
planets.
and fixes intent, desire, and appetite upon the desired goal can
secrets of secrets and occult science both
hidden
penetrate
The writer goes on to emphasize the
universal and particular.
all the different positions and rela
of understanding
of
bodies
and also the distribution
the
of
heavenly
tionships
an
He
describes
then
the
under
terrestrial objects
planets.
image which will cause men to reverence and obey
astrological
send
you, will repel your enemies in terror, afflict the envious,
too
feats
and
marvelous
other
and
stupefying
visions,
perform
importance

to mention.

numerous

Digby
M Savile
67Bodleian

159, fol. 2r.


15, fol. 205r.

67 (Bernard
2136),
fol. 54v, De impressione
formarum;
last item, though noted in Bernard,
new Summary
of Bodleian
Catalogue

fol. 54r, De ydeis et formis;


century,
et annulis.
This
fol. 56v, De ymaginibus
in the proof sheets of the
is or was omitted
now in preparation.
MSS
14th

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241

The Latin P s eudo-Aristotle

As the Speculum
astronomiae of Albertus Magnus
listed a
Book of Judgments
Aristotle
of
works
among deserving
by
so
its
list
and
in
books
of
evil
with
astronomy
astrology,
dealing
necromantic
to
addressed
images appear a treatise by Hermes
seen
Aristotle
'You
and opening,
"Aristotle
have
O
me,
said,
"
and a treatise ascribed to Aristotle with the sinister
Hermes,'
to King Alex
title, Death of the Soul, opening, "Said Aristotle
"
'If
want
to
This
the Speculum
treatise
you
ander,
perceive.'
calls "the worst of all" the evil books on images. Roger Bacon,
too, alludes to it by title as filled with figments of the Magicians,
as author.58 Peter of Abano in his
but does not name Aristotle
Lucidator

follows

the Speculum
and

obscene,

depraved,

in listing

astronomiae

detestable

it among

works.59

Alexander
had some medieval
himself, as well as Aristotle,
as
an
In
the
tenth
and
eleventh century
reputation
astrologer.
of

manuscripts
ger,

the Mathematica

of Alhandreus,
more
than

was

of Maced?n"

"Alexander

and there were also given "Excerpts


authority,
of Alexander,
astrologer,
king," and a "Letter
Alexander."

from

Different

this,

as

cited

an

from the books


to
of Argafalan
was

moreover,

astrolo

supreme
once

the

Mathe

of Alexander,
found in a thirteenth
supreme astrologer,
in which
from the movements
of the
century manuscript,
planets through the signs one is instructed how to foretell pros

matica

and

perous
tune

or

buried
related

adverse

death

of

journeys,
or
a friend,

and

abundance
to discover

stolen

poverty,
articles,

misfor
sorceries,

treasure and so forth.60


A treatise on seven herbs
seven
to the
planets is sometimes ascribed to Alexander,61

68Brewer
(1859) p. 532, De secretis, cap. 3.
69BN
et quern
attribuit
Alexandre
2598, fol. lOlr, "liber quern Aristoteles
nonnulli
mortis
intitulent
anime."
80Ashmole
"Mathematica
Alexandri
fols. 77-84v,
369, late 13th century,
summi
In exordio
creature
omnis
inter cuneta
herus huranicus
astrologi.
sidera xii maluit
eandem
stellam occup?t
signa fore / nam quod lineam d?sign?t
aut adverso
de prospero
Explicit."
itinere; xi, de copia
Cap. x, de inveniendo
et paupertate;
xiv, de nece aut casu amici; xvi, de latrocinio
xxiv,
inveniendo;
de pecunia
in terra defossa;
xxxviii, de noscendis maleficiis.
61 In the
to the Kir anides;
15 th century;
in Montpellier
preface
277,
a septem
and in Ashmole
7 herbarum
1448, 15th century,
pp. 44-45, "Virtutes
planetis
editions

secundum
and MSS

Alexandrum
of

Albertus Magnus,
where
Alexandrum
Imperatorem."

Imperatorem."

It

is also

embodied

in some

or Experimenta
to
attributed
aggregationis
it is entitled,
herbarum
"Virtutes
secundum
septem

the Liber

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242

Thorndike

and at least once


but perhaps more often to Flaccus Africanus,
to Aristotle.62
of astrological
The association
images with spirits of the
one
works ascribed to Ari
of
the
in
above-mentioned
spheres
of our next
stotle has already brought us to the border-line
and
this
Under
Aristotle
spirits.
caption may be placed a
topic,
It also is in part
work found in a fifteenth century manuscript.63
name
is
with
associated
the
Hermes as well
and
of
astrological
as of Aristotle.
Its title runs, The book of the spiritual works of
Aristotle, or the book Anttmaquis, which is the book of the secrets of
Hermes: wonderful things can be accomplished
by means of this
The treatise
book and 'tis the ancient book of the seven planets.
a
and
clime
"To
every people
group of spirits."
opens,
pertains
I.t then maps out these regions of different spirits in accordance
this is the
with the planets and signs of the zodiac. Apparently
same work as that which Hunain
ibn Ishak translated
into
the works of Aristotle
Arabic and of which he says, "Among
which we have found and translated from Greek into Arabic was
book of the Causes of Spirituals
which has Hermes
...
It is the book in which Aristotle
treats of
author.
causes of spirituals,
the art of their operation,
talismans,
It
how to hinder it, ordered after the seven climates."64
of Auvergne
probably some such spurious work that William

The

for
the
and
was

had
he spoke of Aristotle's
boast that a spirit had
him from the sphere of Venus.65
or minerals
on vegetables
has
work of Aristotle
us to accompany
his celebrated History
of A ni
mais, but supposititious writings were soon found by the Arabs to
fill this gap. On plants a brief treatise by Nicolaus Damascenus
in mind when
descended unto
No genuine
come down to

passed
Arabic

for Aristotle's.
Alfred
into Latin,66 presumably

82
Ashmole,
1741,
herbarum
Aristotilis.

of Sarchel translated
it from
before the close of the twelfth

14th

virtutes
fol. 143, "Incipiunt
century,
septem
herbe ab
virtutes
habent
quidam
ipse septem
ab influentia
Nam
7 planetarum.
unamquamque
contingit
recipere virtutem
suam a superioribus
naturaliter.
Nam dicit Aristotelis
inferiora
quod corpora
late
Et

has

reguntur per superiora.


63Sloane
fols. 105v-110.
3854, 15th century,
M E.
sur le Gnosticisme
"?tudes
musulman,"
Blochet,
orientali,
IV, 76.
65De
universo,
II, ii, 39 and 98; II, iii, 6.
M One MS
is Harleian
3487, 14th century, No. 11

in Rivista

degli

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studi

243

The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle

it to Roger of Hereford,
since he dedicated
and Albertus
seven
two
into
its
short
books
expanded
Magnus
long ones in
his De vegetabilibus et plantis.
There also existed in Arabic a
to Aristotle,67 which was cited as early as
ascribed
Lapidary
the ninth century by Costa ben Luca.
Ruska believes the work
one Latin text
to be of Syrian and Persian origin,68 although
to
have
been
translated
from
Greek
into
professes
originally
as
Rose
of
Valentin
it
the
basis
all
subse
Syriac.69
regarded
but found only two Latin manuscripts
quent Arabic mineralogy,
in his Minerals
of it.70 Albertus Magnus
confesses that, although
in divers regions of the world, he had
he had sought diligently
seen only excerpts from Aristotle's
But another writer
work.
of the thirteenth
Arnold
of
century,
Saxony, cites translations
on stones both by "Diascorides,"
of Aristotle
which would seem
century,

sheer

and

nonsense,
translation

Gerard's

by
occurs

Gerard,

.of

presumably

in one

of

Rose's

Cremona.
the

manuscripts;

other seems to give a version translated


from the Hebrew.
a work marked
In Gerard's
translation,
by puerile Latin
of Aristotle
is about equally devoted
to
style, the Lapidary
of stones and tales of Alexander
marvelous
the
properties
After some general discussion
Great.
of stones and their won
derful properties,
gems are taken up. The gesha
particular
misfortune.

brings

Its

altercations

many

67V.
"Aristoteles
Rose,
deutsches Alterthum,
XVIII
of Aristotle
der

has been

arabische

wearer

and

sleeps

de

lapidibus
321

(1875)

edited

poorly,

has

If it is hung

law-suits.

many

about

worries,

a boy's

und Arnoldus
et

in Zeitschrift
Saxo,"
f?r
the Lapidary
seq. More
recently
nach
Das Steinbuch
des Aristoteles,

by J. Ruska,
of the
Heidelberg,
1912, who gives both the Latin
of the translation
into Arabic
by Luca ben Serapion
a German
of it.
translation

Handschrift,
and the text

Li?ge MS
from BN 2772, with
68Ruska
(1912) p. 43.
69
in ydyoma
Ibid. p. 183, "Et ego transfero
su(r)
ipsum ex greco sermone
orum vel Syrorum."
70
Li?ge
77, 14th century;
by Rose
(1875) pp. 349-82.
printed
fol. 127-; printed by Rose
277,15th
century,
(1875) pp. 384-97.
Montpellier
The
I have not examined:
to Aristotle,
also ascribed
treatises,
following

et lapidum;
15th century,
herbarum
fols. 9v-16, de proprietatibus
fols. 81-2, "Isti sunt lapides quorum virtutes misit
2301, 15th century,
in scriptis m?ximo
Aristotiles
the last may
imperatori Alexandra."
Perhaps
have reference
to philosopher's
to
like the similar treatise of Aristotle
stones,
Sloane

2459,

Vienna

Alexander

noted

above

in our discussion

of the

pseudo-Aristotelian

alchemical

treatises.

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244

Thorndike

"There is great occult force" in the


neck, it makes him drivel.
are
and
instructions
magnet,
given how to set water on fire with
the property of neutralizing
it. Several stones possess
spells
and counteracting
the work of demons. With another stone the
Indians make many
Vultures were the first to
incantations.
coarton in hastening
the virtue of the stone filcrum
discover
was
a
near
vulture
When
female
death from the eggs
delivery.
to
off
the
male
flew
in
her
India and brought
body,
hardening
stone is
back this stone which afforded instant relief. Another
so soporific that suspended about the neck it induces a sleen
lasting three days and nights, and the effects of which are
even on the fourth day, when the
thrown off with difficulty
as
act
if intoxicated and still seem sleepier
but
will
awake
sleeper
than

anyone

else.

Another

stone

a horse

prevents

from

whinny

ing, if suspended from his neck.


Other gems suggest stories of Alexander.
Near the frontier
of India in a valley guarded by deadly serpents whose mere
glance was fatal were many precious gems. Alexander disposed
stare
in which they might
of the serpents by erecting mirrors
to death, and he then secured the gems by employing
themselves
the carcasses of sheep in a manner already described
by Epi
A somewhat similar tale is told of Socrates by Albertus
phanius.
on the pseudo-Aristotelian
in his commentary
work on
Magnus
In the reign of
the properties
of the elements and planets.71
Philip
and

of Maced?n,
astronomer,

who
the

road

is himself
between

described
two

as a philosopher
in Armenia

mountains

so poisoned
became
that no one could pass.
Philip vainly
inquired the cause from his sages until Socrates came to the
rescue and, by erecting a tower as high as the mountains
with a
on top of it, saw two dragons polluting
the air. The
was
for
not
of
these
glance
dragons
deadly,
apparently
in air-tight armor went in and killed them. The same story

steel mirror
mere
men

is told by William
tables based upon

astronomical
of St. Cloud, who composed
1285 to
his own observations
from about

1321, in which he detected errors in the earlier


and Toledo.72
In Peter of Abano's
Toulouse,
71De
causis
72Histoire

etc., II, ii, 1 (Borgnet,


elementorum,
65.
Litt?raire de la France, XXV,

tables of Thebit,
treatise on poi

IX, 643).

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245

The Latin P s eudo-Aristotle

on
he too cites the pseudo-Aristotle
the mirror has become a glass cave in
himself to observe
the serpents. A
to
of
II
Bohemia
Wenzel
tells of
dedicated
Lapidary
King
That Socrates
Socrates' killing a dragon by use of quicksilver.74
also shared the medieval
of Aristotle
and Plato for
reputation
seen
and
Prenostica
Socratis
from
divination
is
the
astrology
a mode of divination
found in the manuscripts.
Basilei,
in the glass cave is the
Similar to Abano's
tale of Socrates
of Alexander
story told a century earlier by Alexander Neckam
himself.
So sedulous an investigator
of nature was the Mace
that he went down in a glass vessel to
donian, says Neckam,
observe the natures and customs of the fishes. He would seem

sons,73 however,
although
the causes of the elements,
which Socrates ensconces

to have remained
for some time, since Neckam
submerged
informs us that he took a cock with him in order to tell when it
was dawn by the bird's crowing.
This primitive
submarine had
at least a suggestion
of war about it, since Neckam
goes on to
the
learned how to lay ambushes
say that Alexander
against
one army of fishes attack another.
foe by observing
Unfor
to writing his
failed to commit
tunately, however, Alexander
or scientific,
whether military
of deep-sea
life;
observations,
and Neckam
grieves that very few data on the natures of fishes
have

come

to his

attention.75

account
Neckam's
differs a good deal from the story as
told by the Arabian historian, Mas'?d?,
in the tenth century.
There we read that, when Alexander was building
the city of
Alexandria,

monsters

came

from

the

sea

every

night

and

over

threw the walls that had been built during the day.
Night
watchmen
proved of no avail, so Alexander had a box made ten
73De
in 1316.
venenis, ca. 5; probably written
74
et Liber de physionomia,
Aristotle,
Lapidarius
Merszborg,
1473, p. 8.
75De
naturis
of the
In an illustrated
13th century MS
rerum, II, 21.
vernacular
Romance
are devoted
to his submarine.
of Alexander
three pictures
suz les
Alisandre
fol. 27r, "Comment
1446, 1250 A. D.,
Trinity
vesqui
and three
Alexander
under green water,
ewes; a covered
ship with windows
men in it; fol. 27v, Des nefs ke sont
colifas; a similar ship in the water,
apelees
no one visible
in it; Cornent Alisandre
Alexan
encercha
la nature de pessons;
der and two men
in the ship, fish and mermaid
I have quoted
below."
James'
CU

of the MS
of Lacroix
See also the volume
description
(III, 4$8).
and Literature
in the Middle
Ages, fig. 87, for a view of Alexander
to the bottom
of the sea in a glass cask, from a 13th century MS.

on

Science

descending

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246

Thorndike

cubits
into the
long and five wide, with glass sides fastened
frame work by means of pitch and resin. He then entered the
box with two draughtsmen,
who, after it had been let down to
the bottom of the sea, made exact drawings of the monsters, who
had human bodies but the heads of beasts.
From these sketches
Alexander
had images constructed
and placed on pillars, and
these magic figur?s served to keep off the monsters
until the city
was completed.
But the effect apparently
began to wear off
and talismans had to be added on the pillars to prevent the mon
sters from coming and devouring
as they had
the inhabitants,
of the thir
begun to do again.76 Another Arab, Abu-Shaker,
teenth century, repeats a current tradition that Aristotle
gave
Alexander a box of wax soldiers which were nailed, with inverted
in
face-downwards
spears and swords and severed bow-strings,
the box, which in its turn was fastened by a chain. As long as
the box remained in Alexander's
and he repeated the
possession
formulae which Aristotle
him
he took the box
whenever
taught
over
his
foes in war.77
up or put it down, he would
triumph
This reminds one of the methods
of warfare employed by Alex
ander's fabled natural father, Nectanebus.
While we are speaking of military matters,
it may be noted
that in a manuscript
once
of the thirteenth
century which
belonged to an Albertus Bohemus or Beham, dean of the church
at Padua and seems to have been his note-book, we find between
the Secret of Secrets of the pseudo-Aristotle
and a treatise on the
of the moon in the signs "a delineation
of a brazen
significations
horn made with marvelous
art by which Alexander
in time of
war summoned his army from a distance of
sixty miles."78
But to return to other tales of Alexander
in the Lapidary.
Once

he

wounded
Alexander
ter-acted

saw

afar

the men
prayed
the

sorcery.

enchanters

and

enchantresses

who

slew

and

of his army by their diabolical power until


to God who revealed two stones which
coun
On

another

occasion

when

by

Alexander's

order his barons

had carried off certain gems, during the night


following they suffered much insult from demons and were sore
afraid, since sticks and stones were thrown about the camp by
76
Budge, Egyptian Magic,
1899, pp. 152-6; Mas'?d?,
B. de Maynard
and Pavet de Courteille,
1861, II, 425 ff.
77
Budge
(1899) pp. 95-6.
78
CLM 2574b, bombyc.
13th century,
fol. 69v.

Les Prairies

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d'Or,

ed.

The Latin Pseud o-Aristotle

247

hands and men were beaten without


knowing whence
It thus became apparent
that the demons
the blows came.
cherished those gems as their especial property and were accus
tomed to perform occult operations with them of which they did
found that these
not wish men to learn the secret. Alexander
from
him
would
any beast, serpent, or demon,
gems
protect
the
nocturnal
experience of his barons would
scarcely
although
seem to support this last point.
On a third occasion his army
at certain stones,
were held motionless
and gazed open-mouthed
until a bird fluttered down and covered the gems with its out
unseen

Then Alexander
had his followers close their
stretched wings.
cover and place them on
stones
under
the
and
away
eyes
carry
so
no one might scale the
one
his
that
the
of
cities
of
of
wall
top
wall to spy upon the town.
Yet another
and a stone is
curious story of Alexander
on
his
Peter
in
work
of
Abano
poisons from a treatise
repeated by
to Aristotle.
of Serpents" which he ascribes
"On the Nature
a
wore
stone
to give him
in
his
belt
certain
Alexander
always
on
return
in
his
his
but
from
luck
India, while
battles,
good
a
the
he
the
in
removed
belt, whereupon
Euphrates,
bathing
appeared, bit the stone out of the belt, and
suddenly
of his talisman, Alexander
it into the river. Deprived
met
his
death.79
presently
at Merseburg
in
Another
printed as Aristotle's
Lapidary,
on
a
of
medieval
the
is
works
1473,
previous
really
compilation
subject with the addition of some items derived from the per
It was composed
sonal knowledge or experience of the author.
serpent
vomited

the honor of almighty God and the glory and perpetual


of that virtuous and most glorious prince, Wenzel
II,
As
of
the
itself
treatise
Bohemia"
states,
(1278-1305).
King
"to

memory

79
similar is the story in the Gilgamesh
Very
epic, a work "far more ancient
while he
than Genesis,"
of a serpent stealing a life-giving
plant from Gilgamesh
was bathing
to Gilga
The plant, which had been revealed
in a well or brook.
"had the miraculous
mesh by the deified Ut-napishtim,
power of renewing
youth
"
and bore the name 'the old man becomes young.'
Sir James Frazer
(Folk-Lore
in the Old Testament,
follows Rabbi
1918, I, 50-51)
("On
Julian Morgenstern
in Zeitschrift
274-320,"
XXIX,
1915, p.
f. Assyriologie,
this incident with
and tree of life in the
the serpent
and gives further examples
of the fall of man,
from the folk

XI,
Gilgamesh-Epic,
284 ff.) in connecting
Biblical

account

lore of primitive
lizard,

perverting

peoples
divine

of other
good

such as the dog, frog, duck, and


jealous animals,
or gifts to man
to their own profit.

tidings

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248

Thorndike

"the Lapidary
of Aristotle
in the recent translation
from
the Greek"
is only one of its sources along with Avicenna,
Constantinus
and others.
Africanus, Albertus Magnus,
Another work which claims Aristotelian
authorship
only in
its title is the Chiromancy of Aristotle, printed at Ulm in 1490,
which
and Avicenna.
quotes
freely from Albertus Magnus
There are also brief tracts on chiromancy
ascribed to Aristotle
or fourteenth
in manuscripts
of the thirteenth
century,80
Forster has identified Polemon as the author of the Greek treatise
on physiognomy
ascribed to Aristotle.81
The art of physignomy
to read character
of course professed
from the face or other
we
of
the
and
which
have just mentioned
parts
chiromancy
body,
is really a branch of it. In Latin translation
the treatise was
as
as Albertus
such
Aristotle's
medieval
schoolmen
accepted
by
and

Magnus

Duns

Scotus.

There

are

many

of

manuscripts

it

one which perhaps


dates
in the British Museum,
including
Its popularity
continued
back to the twelfth century.82
long
after the invention of printing, as is shown by separate editions
in 1538,
of it brought out at Paris in 1535 and at Wittenberg
at Paris in 1611, at
and by commentaries
upon it83 published
in 1636. Besides such separate
Bologna in 1621, and at Toulouse
and editions of it, it was also regularly embodied
manuscripts
in the numerous
work to
copies of the pseudo-Aristotelian
which

we

next

turn.

influential upon the medieval mind of all the


widely
to Aristotle was the Secret of Secrets.
spurious works attributed
two hundred and seven Latin manuscripts
F?rster enumerated
of it and his list is probably far from complete.84
Gaster calls it
Most

80Sloane

7420A
fols. 125-26; Additional
fols. 154-60: BN,
15236,
2030,
16.
(14th century) No.
81Richard
recen
De Aristotelis
quae feruntur
physiognomonicis
F?rster,
latin, physiognom.,
translat.
1884; Scriptores
Kiliae,
1882; De
cendis, Kiliae,
1893-1894.
Physio gnomici Lipsiae,
82Cotton
fol. 126 ff.; Harleian
847; Sloane
3969; Egerton
Julius D-viii,
fol. 160 (in abbreviated
Additional
fol. 95-103;
form); Sloane
15236,
2030,
fols. 19-23; Sloane 3584; Egerton
2852, fol. 115v. et seq.
83There
cen
on it of the fourteenth
is a manuscript
copy of a commentary
of
the
MSS.
for
186.
See
Schum's
at
catalog
Quarto
Erfurt,
tury
Amplon.
collection.
itself in the Amplonian
Physiognomia
84R.
secreta secretorum Commentatio,
quae feruntur
F?rster, De Aristotelis
Secre
des pseudo-Aristotelischen
und Ausgaben
1888; Handschriften
Kiliae,
3281,

tum

secretorum,

in Centralblatt

f. Bibliothekswesen,

VI

(1889)

1-22,

57-76.

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The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle

249

"The most

This is not
ages.85
popular book of the middle
sum
to
it
in
form
concise
what the
since
up
purports
surprising
it
of
essential
ancient
deemed
for the
greatest
philosophers
to
rulers
and
since
under
the
of
ancient
know,
greatest
alluring
pretense of revealing great secrets in parable and riddle it really
masses
and most often
together a number of the best-tested
repeated maxims of personal hygiene and practical philosophy,
to which men have shown them
and some of the superstitious
selves most inclined.
Every European
library of consequence
contains a number of copies of it. It was translated
into almost
was
as in Lyd
and
often
every European
versified,
language
ees
old
Philis
Seer
Albertus
and
of
offres.86
gate's
Burgh's
Magnus
a rather jejune
cited it as Aristotle's;87
Roger Bacon wrote
upon it.88 It was printed a number of times before
commentary
1500.89
86M.

in his Introduction
to a Hebrew
version
of the Secret of
Gaster,
in the Journal
(1908, part 2), pp. 1065
Society,
of the Royal Asiatic
Secrets,
text and an English
Ibid.
translation,
84; for the Hebrew
(1907) pp. 879-913
and (1908, part 1) pp. 111-62.
86Ed. Robert
con
1894.
Volume LXXIV
Steele, EETS
LXVI,
London,
of it in Italian
versions.
There are numerous MSS
tains three earlier English
in the Riccardian
87De somno

and Palatini

collections

at Florence.

et vigilia, 1, ii, 7.
88Tanner
149, 15th century.
116, 13th century; Corpus Christi
Recently
of the text, by Robert Steele,
arrangement
edited, together with Bacon's
peculiar
in?dita Rogeri Baconi.
1902, as Fase. V of his Opera hactenus
89There
are considerable
the different
between
early printed
discrepancies
which differ in length, order of arrangement,
tables of contents,
and
editions,
And in the same edition the chapter headings
of chapters.
given in the
of the text may not agree with those in the table of contents, which as a
of the text.
does not fully cover
the subject-matter
rule, even in the MSS,
The different
for their edi
used different manuscripts
have probably
printers
number
course

rather

tions
editions
An

than

are those
edition

vard University

numbered

30th

printed
Library,

imperfect.
An edition
it was

MSS,

not

The
of their own.
any new additions
following
in the following pages.
references will be made
I examined
at the Har
at Cologne
about
1480, which
divides

the

text

into only

thirty

chapters

and

seems

at the British Museum,


I examined
where
1485, which
IA. 10756, has 74 chapters,
and the headings
of its 25th and
for instance,
those of the 11th and 13th chapters
in
agree with
of about

chapters,
the Harvard
copy.
A third edition

passages
As

made

to which

found

of Paris,
1520 has no numbered
in the two earlier editions.

chapters

a check upon these printed


texts I have examined
two of the 13th, and one of the 14th century.
Of

and

contains

the three following


these Egerton
2676

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250

Thorndike
Secret

The

is believed
to be the outcome
of a
of Secrets
of
from
varied
and
to
very
sources,
compilation
gradual process
like its present form by the seventh or
have reached something
eighth century of our era. But its chapters on physiognomy,
as we have seen, go back to Polemon's
treatise, and part of its
is said to be borrowed from Diodes
medical discussion
Caristes
who wrote about 320 b.c.
Some Graeco-Persian
treatise
is
It is also
thought to be the basis of its discussion of kingship.
to have appropriated
believed
to
bits from popular
literature
In Arabic
its own uses.
there is extant both a longer and a
text which is
shorter version, and Gaster has edited a Hebrew
a
derived
from
different
Arabic
than any
apparently
original
text.

Latin

The

process

of

successive

compilation,

or

at

least,

re-editing and repeated translation which the work underwent


is suggested by a series of prologues which occur at the begin
the preface of the Latin translator and the
ning.
Following
table of contents comes what is called "the prologue of a certain
of Aristotle,"90
in which omnipotent
doctor in commendation
God is prayed to guard the king and some anonymous
editor
that he has executed
the mandate
enjoined upon him to
on
conduct
moral
the
work
called The Secret of
procure
royal
chief
of
which
After
Secrets,
Aristotle,
philosophers,
composed.
some talk about Aristotle
a second prologue
and Alexander
this book, son
begins with the sentence, "John who translated
of a patrician, most skilful and faithful interpreter of languages,
to have been Yuhanna
ibn el
This
says."
John appears
over
and
is
what
he
searched
he
that
world
the
says
Batriq
until he came to an oracle of the sun which Esculapides
had con
There
he found a solitary abstemious
structed.
sage who
states

fairly
corresponds
British Museum.

closely

throughout

to the edition

fols. 3-52
Egerton
2676, 13th century,
BN 6584, 13th century,
fols. lr-32v
Bodleian
fols. l-53v,
67, 14th century,
90BN

6584,
See

fol.

"De

lv,
also Digby

is much

cuiusdam

numbered

IA. 10756

like the preceding


doctoris

in the

MS.

in commendatione

prologo
a scribe has
fol. 27, where
228, 14th century,
"In isto libello primo
written
in the upper margin,
deinde
prologus,
ponitur
in libro, deinde prologus
cuiusdam
in commenda
tabula contentorum
doctoris
. . ."
deinde prologus
Iohannis qui transtulit
cionem Aristotilis,
librum istum.
. . ."
In Egerton
custodiat
regem.
2676, fol. 6r, "Deus omnipotens
aristotelis."

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251

The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle

from Greek
presented him with this book which he translated
This passage reminds
into Chaldaic and thence into Arabic.
one of Harpocration's
remarks to his daughter in the
prefatory
Kir anides; indeed, it is quite in the usual style of apocryphal
writings.
In the matter of the Latin translation we are on somewhat
more certain ground.
John of Spain in the first half of the
seems to have translated
twelfth century
only the medical
are relatively
of
this
translation
partial
portion.91 Manuscripts
few,92 and it was presently
superseded by the complete transla
tion made either in the twelfth or early thirteenth
century93
by Philip, "the least of his clerics" for "his most excellent lord,
most strenuous in the cult of the Christian
religion, Guido of
of
of
the
Valencia,
city
glorious pontiff
Tripoli."
Philip goes
on to say in his dedicatory preface that it was when he was with
. . .
Guido in Antioch that they found "this pearl of philosophy,
this book which contains something useful about almost every
science," and which it pleased Guido to have translated from
the various printed editions and
Arabic into Latin.
Although
in Latin vary considerably,
of
Secret
Secrets
the
manuscripts
of
are
of the Latin
this
ascription
preceded
by
they regularly
to Philip, and usually by the other prologues afore
translation
Who this Philip was, other than a cleric of Tripoli,
mentioned.
If he was the same as the papal physician
is still undetermined.
to send on a mission
to
III in 1177 proposed
whom Alexander
Pr?ster
date.

John, he had probably made his translation before that


J. Wood Brown would identify him with Philip of Salerno,

91Steinschneider

(1905) p. 42, it is true, says, "Ob Joh. selbst das ganze


but the following passage,
ist noch nicht ermittelt;"
cited by Giacosa
Cod.
(1901) p. 386 from Bibl. Angelica
Rome,
1481, 12th
that he translated
indicates
fols. 144-146v,
only the medical
century,
part.
et a me quasi essem medi?is
"Cum de utilitate
corporis olim tractarim
?bersetzt

Secretum

vestra

habe,

et de
ut brevem
libellum
quereret
se deben t contineri
in qualibus
cordis

nobilitas

continentia

servare

cupiunt

accidit

ut dum

cogitarem
Alexandro

vestre

observatione

di?te

qui sanitatem
iussioni obedire huius

et de

corporis
rei exem

in mente
occurreret
repente
secre
id est secretum
arabice
vocatur
ciralacerar
quod excerpi
Alexandro
torum que fecit fieri predictus
Aristotelis
de
regi magno
philosophus
. . ."
multa
regibus utilia.
dispositione
regni in quo continentur
92Ed. H.
1883,1, 473 et seq.
Souchier, Denkm?ler
provenzal Lit., Halle,
93
are numerous:
I have
translation
Thirteenth
of Philip's
century MSS
pliar

aristotelis

not noted

philosophi
de libro qui

a 12th century

dictum

one.

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252

Thorndike

a royal notary whose name appears


in 1200 on deeds in the
of
Sicily.94
kingdom
to Philip's preface to Guido, it may be noted that
Returning
he states that Latins do not have the work and it is rare among
is a free one since the Arabic idiom
the Arabs.95 His translation
Aristotle wrote this book in response
is different from the Latin.
to the petition of King Alexander
his disciple who demanded
should either come to him or faithfully reveal the
that Aristotle
secrets

certain

of

arts,

natures

and

working

the motion,

namely,

of the stars in astronomy,

and

enchantments,

and

operation,

the art of alchemy,

power

the art of knowing

the

art

of

geomancy.

it had
Aristotle was too old to come in person, and although
to conceal in every way the secrets of the
been his intention
the will and
said sciences, yet he did not venture to contradict
command of so great a lord. He hid some matters,
however,
For Alexander's
and figurative
locutions.
under
enigmas
he divided the work into ten books, each of which
convenience
is divided into chapters and headings.
Philip adds that for his
at the
he has collected
these headings
readers' convenience
a
of
of
contents
the
work
and
table
Then
follows.95a
beginning
come the two older prologues which we have already described,
to Alexander on the extrinsic and intrin
next a letter of Aristotle
94Brown

But not much


reliance can be placed on
(1897) pp. 19-20, 36-7.
of this name "Master
in a title which Brown
of Tripoli"
Philip
from a De Rossi MS,
of Urine
"The Book of the Inspections
(p. 20) quotes
to the opinion of the Masters,
Damas
Peter of Berenico,
Constantine
according
the

inclusion

of the Emperor
cenus, and Julius of Salerno; which was composed
by command
Anno Domini
and was revised by
of February,
Frederick,
1212, in the month
at the orders of the
Master
of Tripoli
and Master
Gerard
of Cremona
Philip
at least had died in 1187 and
of Spain"
of Cremona
etc., since Gerard
King
there was no "king of Spain" unt? 1479.
Brown does not give the Latin
but if the date 1212 could
for the passage,
as Spanish
era and turned
be regarded
Gerard
of Cremona
into 1174 A.D.,
still be living,
would
the emperor would
instead of
be Frederick
Barbarossa
whom
of Tripoli might
be the same Philip
II, and Master
Philip
Alexander
III proposed
to send to Pr?ster John in 1177.
95BN
latini eo quod apud paucis
6584, fol. Ir, "Hunc librum quo carebant
simos arabies
cum magno
A considerable
transtuli
labore.
..."
reperitur

Frederick
Pope

of Philip's
is omitted
in the Harvard
edition.
portion
preface
960
The preliminary
table of contents,
however,
gives only chapter headings,
which
in BN 6584 are 82 in number,
of the ten books are
but the beginnings
indicated

in the

text

in BN

6584

as

follows.

The

numbers

in parentheses

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253

The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle

sic causes of his work,96 and then with a chapter which is usually
headed Distinctio
regum or Reges sunt quatuor begins the dis
cussion of kingship which is the backbone of the work.
It is evident from Philip's preface that occult science also
forms a leading feature in the work as lrnown to him. Gaster,
from the Arabic
who contended
that the Hebrew
translation
which he edited was as old as either John of Spain's or Philip's
the oldest of the four manuscripts
Latin translations,
although
which he collated for his text is dated only in 1382 A.D., made a
statement when he affirmed, "Of the astrology
rather misleading
so
recensions the Hebrew
looming
largely in the later European
has only a faint trace."97 As a matter of fact some of the printed
editions
less astrology
contain
than the thirteenth
century
while

manuscripts,

Gaster's

Hebrew

version

has

much

more

But more of this later.


than "a faint trace" of astrology.
On the other hand, I cannot fully subscribe to Steinschnei
dern characterization
of The Secret of Secrets as "a wretched
of philosophical
and varied
compilation
mysticism
supersti
tion."98 Of superstition
there is a great deal, but of philosophi
none. Despite
cal mysticism
there is practically
the title and
the promise
in Philip's
of enigmatic
preface
language, the tone of the text is seldom mystical,
sort.
phy is of a very practical
are

and figurative
and its philoso

the corresponding
67 which,
omits mention
leaves in Bodleian
however,
and its number
except in the case of the fourth book,

of

the book

fol. 3v(5r),
ad Alexandrum
liber primus.
Incipit
Epistola
et reverenda
fol. 6r, Secundus
liber de dispositione
Regali
Fol.

12r (18v),

accidit

corruptio.
fol. 22r (36r),

iitanus

de forma

fol. 28r
fol. 28r
fol. 28v

Incipit
. . .

Incipit
iusticie

liber tertius.
liber quartus.

Cum

hoc

transtulit

corpus

Regis

corruptible

magister

sit eique

philippus

tripo

secretorum
de scribis et scriptoribus
Quintus
et informationibus
Sextus de nuntiis
ipsorum
de hiis qui sr' intendunt
et habent
Liber Septimus

curam

(44v), Liber
(45r), Liber
(46v),

subditorum
fol. 29r (47r), Liber Octavus
et procerum
inferiores.

de dispositione

ductoris

sui et de electione

bel

atorium

et forma aggrediendi
de regimine
bellatorum
(48r), Liber Nonus
et pronatationibus
eorundem
fol. 30v (50v), Sermo de phisionomia
cuiuslibet
hominis.
96It is omitted
in both 13th century
in some printed
editions
but occurs

fol. 29v
bellum

MSS

which
I examined.
97
Gaster
(1908) p. 1076.
95
Steinschneider
(1905) p. 60.

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254

Thorndike

as merely
Nor can The Secret of Secrets be dismissed
"a
Those
which
deal
with
wretched
portions
compilation."
king
shrewdness and common sense,
craft and government
display
are not
wisdom
and knowledge
of human nature,
worldly
restricted by being written from any one premise or view-point,
Those historians who have
and often evince real enlightenment.
declared the love of fame a new product of the Italian Renais
sance should have read the chapter on fame in this most popular
as that
book of the middle ages, where we find such statements
not
to
own
for
its
be
desired
for the
sake
but
royal power ought
fame. Other noteworthy
utterances
sole purpose of achieving
indicative of the tone and thought of the book are that "the
...
is the root of all things praiseworthy";
intellect
that kings
the sciences;
that liberality
should cultivate
involves
respect
that "war destroys order and devastates
for other's property;
to chaos"; that no earthly ruler
the lands and turns everything
is reserved for God alone, but limit
should shed blood, which
to imprisonment,
his punishments
flogging, and torture; that
the king, as Chief Justice Coke later told James I, is under the
should be light so that they
law; that taxes upon merchants
to its prosperity;
will remain in the country and contribute
that
his people are a king's true treasury and that he should acquaint
himself with their needs and watch over their interests.
From the medical passages of the book one would infer that
at first developed
more
the art of healing
slowly than the
art of ruling in the world's history.
The medical
theory of the
Secret of Secrets is not of an advanced or complex sort, but is a
once a
of curious notions
such as that vomiting
combination
month is beneficial and sensible ideas such as that life consists of
natural heat and that it is very important to keep the abdomen
warm and the bowels moving
The well-known
regularly.
"I
of
is
would
rather eat to live
Hippocrates
quoted,
apothegm
than live to eat."
in The
Much of the advice offered to Alexander
by Aristotle
Secret of Secrets is astrological.
those
studies
which
the
Among
one
the
should
is
mentioned
promote
only
king
specifically
course
"the
of
which
considered
of
the
the
and
year
astrology,
of the month,
the
stars, the coming festivals and solemnities
course of the planets, the cause of the shortening and lengthening
of days and nights, the signs of the stars which determine
the
to prediction
future and many other things which pertain
of

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The Latin-Pseudo

255

Aristotle

is adjured "not to rise up or sit down or


the future.99 Alexander
eat or drink or do anything without
consulting a man skilled in
the

art

of

the

Later

astronomy."100

two

parts

of

astronomy

are distinguished,
in our sense
that is astronomy
and astrology
is further warned to put no faith in the
of the words.
Alexander
utterances
of those stupid persons who declare that the science
No less stupid is the argu
of the stars is too difficult to master.
ment of others who affirm that God has foreseen and foreor
from eternity
and that consequently
all
everything
no
and
it
is
of
of
therefore
necessity
things happen
advantage
to predict events which cannot be avoided.
For even if things
it would be easier to bear them by
of necessity,
happened
for them beforehand,
and
preparing
just as men
foreknowing
a
the
of
cold
make preparations
winter?the
coming
against
But The Secret of Secrets also
of Ptolemy.
familiar contention
believes that one should pray God in his mercy to avert future
"For He has not so ordained things
evils and ordain otherwise,
in any respect from his
that to ordain otherwise
derogates
this is not so approved an astrological doctrine.
"But
Providence
is once more urged never to take
Later in the work Alexander
medicine or open a vein except with the approval of his astrono
dained

mers,101

and

directions

are

given

as

to

the

constellations

under

and also concerning


should be performed
the
bleeding
taking of laxatives with reference to the position of the moon
in the signs of the zodiac.102 Later the work discusses
the rela
tions of the four elements and of various herbs to the seven
is advised
planets,103 and in the next to last chapter Alexander
to conduct his wars under the guidance of astrology.104

which

99
Cap.

11 (Harvard copy); cap. 25 (BM. IA.10756);


fol. 12r;
Egerton2676,
6584, fol. 9v.
100
13 (Harvard
cap. 30 (BM. IA.10756);
Egerton
2676, fol.
Cap.
copy);
text.
BN
13r;
6584, fol. lOr; also in Gaster's Hebrew
101
fol. xxxiiir.
2676, fol. 32r.; cap. 62 (BM. IA.10756);
Egerton
(Paris,
BN 6584, fol. 19v.
1520).
102The
1520 edition then goes on to explain the effects of incantations
Paris,
seemes to be missing
and images upon astrological
from
grounds, but this passage

BN

the earlier printed


and the thirteenth
editions
century manuscripts.
Roger
were present
in Ph?ip's
that incantations
Bacon,
original
however,
implies
translation:
Steele
(1920) 258-9.
103This
2676 and in BM. IA.10756.
is found both in Egerton MS.
passage
BN 6584, fol. 21r-v.
Bodl. 67, fol. 32v-35v.
104
BN 6584, fol. 30v.
; fols. 44v-45r.
(Paris, 1520).
Cap. 73 (BM. IA.10756)

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256

Thorndike

There is much indulging in astrological


theory in the midst
of the chapter on Justice, and the constitution
of the universe
is set forth from the first and highest simple spiritual substance
down through
the nine heavens
and spheres to the lowest
To illustrate
inferiors.
the power of the stars the story is
told

presently

of

two

boys,105

one

a weaver's

son,

the

other

royal prince of India.


Sages who were chance guests in the
house at the time of the child's birth noted that his
weaver's
horoscope was that of a courtier high in royal councils but kept
to themselves.
their discovery
The boy's parents vainly tried
to make a weaver of him, but even beatings were in vain; he
was finally allowed to follow his natural inclination,
secured an
and became
in time a royal governor.
The king's
education,
son, on the contrary, despite his royal birth and the fact that
his father sent him through all his provinces to learn the sciences,
would take no interest in anything except mechanics
comforma
his
to
bly
horoscope.
In The Secret of Secrets the pseudo-Aristotle
refers Alexander
for the virtues of gems and herbs to his treatises on stones and
those which we have already described.
plants, presumably
does not entirely refrain from discussion
of such marvelous
in the present work, however, mentioning
the use of
properties
the virtues of stones in connection with incantations.
We also
again hear of stones which will prevent any army from with
standing Alexander or which will cause horses to whinny or keep
them from doing so; and of herbs which bring true or false

He

dreams

or

cause

joy,

love,

hate,

honor,

reverence,

and

courage,

inertia.106 One recipe reads, "If you take in the name of someone
seven grains of the seeds of the herb called androsimon,
and hold
them in his name when Lucifer and Venus are rising so that
their rays touch him (or them?), and if you give him those
seven grains to eat or pulverized
in drink, fear of you will ever
in
heart
and
his
he will obey you for the rest of his life."107
abide
are
discussed at least in some versions.108
Astrological
images
to herbs and stones in The
The extreme powers attributed
Secret of Secrets aroused some skepticism among its Latin readers
106BN
fol. 21r; also in Gaster's
Hebrew
cap.
6584,
version;
Harvard
copy.
106
fols. 34r-35r;
pp. 116, 160-62; Egerton
cap.
2676,
Gaster,
fol. 37v. (Paris, 1520).
BN 6584, fol. 20r-22r.
IA.10756);
107
Egerton
2676, fol. 36v; BN 6584, fol. 22r.
108Paris
(1520) fol. 37; Steele (1920) lxii, 157-63, 252-61; Gaster,

26
66

p.

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in the

(BM.

159.

257

The Latin Pseudo-Aristotle

a Domini
of the thirteenth century.109 Geoffrey of Waterford,
can from Ireland who died about 1300, translated The Secret of
He criticized,
its assertions
Secrets
into French.
however,
as
more
stones
of
and
herbs
akin to
the
virtues
concerning
a fact of which, he adds, all clerks
fables than to philosophy,
who know Latin well are aware. He wonders why Alexander
had to win his battles by hard fighting when Aristotle
is supposed
to inform him in this book of a stone which will always rout the
are the
that such false statements
decides
enemy.
Geoffrey
is the author only of
work of the translators and that Aristotle
what is well said or reasonable in the work.
is said in The Secret of Secrets of the occult prop
Something
and as usual the
erties and relative perfection
of numbers,
is

preference

for

the

numbers,

three,

four,

and

seven,

ten.110

The Hebrew version adds a puerile method


of divining who will
be victor in a battle by a numerical calculation based upon the
The treatment of alchemy
letters in the names of the generals.
is rather,confusing
A recipe for the Philoso
and inconsistent.
is warned
pher's stone is given, but in some versions Alexander
is not a true science.111
that Chimia or Kimia
We may conclude our picture of the work's contents with
two

of

its

stories,

namely,

the

concerning

maiden

poisonous

and

A beautiful maiden was sent from


the Jew and the Magus.
India to Alexander with other rich gifts. But she had been fed
upon poison from infancy "until she was of the nature of a
snake. And had I not perceived
in the
it," continues Aristotle
Hebrew

version,

"for

I suspected

the

clever

men

of

those

coun

tries and their craft, and had I not found by tests that she would
kill thee by her embrace and by her perspiration,
she surely
would have killed thee."112 This venomous maiden is also alluded

cap.

109HL.
216 ff.
XXI,
110
68 and 72 (BM. IA.10756);
Caps.
text and in the Paris
72 in Gaster's

in BN 6584.
passage
111BN
fol.
6584,
10756) ; fols. 36v.-37r.,

cap.
(1520)

68 appears
in Egerton
2676;
I could not find the
edition.

20r-v; Egerton
2676, fol. 33v.-34r.;
cap. 65 (BM. IA.
and fol. 38r. (Paris, 1520) ;Gaster,
159-60.
The warning
not appear
in the two 13th century MSS
but only

does
against
alchemy
the printed edition of 1520 and Gaster's Hebrew
version.
112
and BN
p. 127; cap. 12 (Harvard
Gaster,
copy); also in BM. IA.10756,
seems to detect
fol. lOr, where Aristotle
the venomous
nature
of the
6584,
maiden

art?"Et
nisi ego illa hora sagaciter
by magic
inspexissem
.
arte m?gica
iudicassem.
."; while it is her mere bite that kills men.
afterwards
proved
experimentally.

in ipsam et
as Alexander

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258

Thorndike

to in various medieval
of poisons.
discussions
Peter of Abano
mentions
her in his De venenis.113 Gilbert of England,
following
no doubt Gerard of Cremona's
of Avicenna,
translation
cites
rather than the Pseudo-Aristotle
Ruffus
her
and
concerning
to
her
of
relations
but
adds
says
Alexander,
nothing
that
animals
who
her spittle were killed
approached
by
a French work of the
it.114 In "Le Secret aux philosophes,"
closing thirteenth century, where the story is told at considerable
saves Alexander
from the
length, Socrates rather than Aristotle
maid.115

poisonous

In the other
favorable
light
rather

represent

story a Magus
than magicians
one

of

the

Persian

is represented
in a much more
he seems to
were;
generally
sages.

He

was

traveling

on

a mule with provisions and met a Jew traveling on foot.


talk soon turned to their respective
religions and moral

Their
stand
inclined to

The Magus professed altruism;


the Jew was
men
of
the
all
better
these principles
except
get
Jews. When
the Magus,
had been stated, the Jew requested
since he pro
fessed to observe the law of love, to dismount
and let him ride
the mule.
No sooner had this been done than the Jew, true to
ards.

law of selfishness and hate, made off with both mule and
to lose his
This misfortune
did not lead the Magus
provisions.
faith in God, however, and as he plodded along he by and by
came again upon the Jew who had fallen off the mule and broken

his

his neck.

The Magus
then mercifully
brought the Jew to the
town where he died, while the king of the country made
the Magus one of his trusted ministers of state.115

nearest

Lynn
Western

Thorndike

Reserve University

113
Cap. 3.
114Gilbertus
Compendium
Anglicus,
medicinae,
Lyons,
1510, foi. 348v.
116
569 ff. uDie Sage vom Giftm?dchen"
HL. XXX,
is the theme of a long
by W. Hertz, Gesammelte
(1905) pp. 156-277.
monograph
Abhandlungen
116BN
1520 edition,
etc.
6584, fol. 27; IA. 10756, cap. 68; also in Paris,
The various writers of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries who have been cited
in this article, and the whole subject of medieval
occult science, will be treated of
and Experimental
Science and their Relation
fully in my History
of Magic

more

to Christian

Thought

during

thefirst

thirteen centuries

of our era, which

press.

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is now

in