This study analyzes the relationship between alchemy and prophecy in the Twelfth and Thirteenth century alchemical literature. Intertwined since the very first translated text in the Latin West – the Testamentum by Morienus – alchemy and prophecy are also twisted together in the Liber compostelle written by Bonaventura da Iseo and in Costantino Pisano’s De secretis alchimie. This link is then investigated in depth by the physician Pietro Bono da Ferrara in the Pretiosa margarita novella (13th century): in his opinion, ancient alchemists were also prophets of Christian truth, since they had experienced almost divine events in their operations. The Liber parabolicus attributed to Arnau of Vilanova deals with the same relation: Old Testament’s predictions are here connected with Christ’s life experiences, which, in turn, can “explain” the different steps of the alcemical opus. The weaving between the prophetical and alchemical level is rooted into the Hermetic origins of alchemy. Prophecy is a powerful discourse aimed at transforming reality, alchemy can thus be understood not only as a ‘knowledge of occult things’ (i.e. one of the possible definitions of prophecy), but more properly as a ‘concrete prophecy’, meant to perfect nature through tangible and technical intervention.

Opus and Sermo. The Relationship between Alchemy and Prophecy

CRISCIANI, CHIARA
2008

Abstract

This study analyzes the relationship between alchemy and prophecy in the Twelfth and Thirteenth century alchemical literature. Intertwined since the very first translated text in the Latin West – the Testamentum by Morienus – alchemy and prophecy are also twisted together in the Liber compostelle written by Bonaventura da Iseo and in Costantino Pisano’s De secretis alchimie. This link is then investigated in depth by the physician Pietro Bono da Ferrara in the Pretiosa margarita novella (13th century): in his opinion, ancient alchemists were also prophets of Christian truth, since they had experienced almost divine events in their operations. The Liber parabolicus attributed to Arnau of Vilanova deals with the same relation: Old Testament’s predictions are here connected with Christ’s life experiences, which, in turn, can “explain” the different steps of the alcemical opus. The weaving between the prophetical and alchemical level is rooted into the Hermetic origins of alchemy. Prophecy is a powerful discourse aimed at transforming reality, alchemy can thus be understood not only as a ‘knowledge of occult things’ (i.e. one of the possible definitions of prophecy), but more properly as a ‘concrete prophecy’, meant to perfect nature through tangible and technical intervention.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11571/105369
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