Advertisement

The Alchemical Art of Dyeing: The Fourfold Division of Alchemy and the Enochian Tradition

Chapter
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 37)

Abstract

What is Graeco-Egyptian alchemy? Which kinds of techniques and craft practices does it encompass? And what were its goals? The paper addresses these questions by investigating the earliest Greek alchemical texts preserved both in Byzantine and in Syriac manuscripts. Already during the first centuries AD, in the Graeco-Roman Egypt it is possible to recognize some disagreement over the definition of alchemy and its expected outcomes. On the one hand, ps.-Democritus’s four books and the Leiden and Stockholm papyri support a fourfold division of alchemy including processes for making gold, silver, and precious stones (glass working included), and for dyeing wool purple. On the other hand, Isis’s treatise focuses only on the making of precious metals, which is identified with the main goal of alchemy during the late Byzantine tradition. In the process that led to such a simplification of the technical background of alchemy Zosimus’s work seems to represent an important turning point. In fact the author inherited the above mentioned polarity and discussed different ideas of alchemy in a key text (here edited and translated into English for the first time) on the revelation of alchemy based on the Enochian myth of the fallen angels.

Keywords

Precious Metal Lightning Strike Greek Version Greek Text Precious Stone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Bibliography

  1. Abt, Theodor, and Salwa Fuad. 2011. The Book of Pictures by Zosimos of Panopolis. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publication.Google Scholar
  2. Adler, William, and Paul Tuffin. 2002. The Chronography of George Synkellos. A Byzantine Chronicle of Universal History from the Creation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Albini, Francesca. 1988. Michele Psello. La Crisopoea, ovvero come fabbricare l’oro. Genova: ECIG.Google Scholar
  4. Baar, James. 1979. Aramaic-Greek Notes on the Book of Enoch (ii). Journal of Semitic Studies 24: 179–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berthelot, Marcelin, and Charles-Émile Ruelle. 1887–1888. La Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs, 3 vols. Paris: G. Steinheil.Google Scholar
  6. Berthelot, Marcelin, and Rubens Duval. 1893. Histoire des Sciences: La Chimie au Moyen-Âge, vol. 2: L’alchimie syriaque. Paris: Imprimerie nationale.Google Scholar
  7. Bidez, Joseph. 1928. Michel Psellus. Épitre sur la Chrysopée, opuscules et extraits sur l’alchimie, la météorologie et la démonologie (Catalogue des manuscrits alchimiques grecs, vol. 6). Brussels: M. Lamertin.Google Scholar
  8. Bidez, Joseph, and Franz Cumont. 1938. Les Mages hellénisés. Zoroastre, Ostanès et Hystaspe d’après la tradition grecque, 2 vols. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  9. Black, Mathew. 1985. The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch: A New English Edition with Commentary and Textual Notes. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  10. Brooks, Ernest W. 1900. A Syriac Fragment. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 3: 195–230.Google Scholar
  11. Caley, Earle R. 1926. The Leyden Papyrus X: An English Translation with Brief Notes. Journal of Chemical Education 3: 1149–1166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Caley, Earle R. 1927. The Stockholm Papyrus: An English Translation with Brief Notes. Journal of Chemical Education 4: 979–1002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1910. Chronique de Michel le Syrien, vol. 4: Texte syriaque. Paris: Pierre Leroux.Google Scholar
  14. Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1933. Incerti auctoris Chronicum Pseudo-Dionysianum vulgo dictum, vol. 2 (CSCO 104, syr. 53). Louvain: Peeters.Google Scholar
  15. Dodge, Bayard. 1970. Abū ’l-Faraj Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, a 10th Century AD Survey of Islamic Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Duffy, John M. 1992. Michaelis Pselli philosophica minora. Leipzig: Teubner.Google Scholar
  17. Duval, Rubens. 1888–1901. Lexicon Syriacum auctore Hassano bar Bahlule, 3 vols. Paris: E. Reipublicae typographaeo.Google Scholar
  18. Festugière, André-Jean. 1950. La Révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste, vol. 1: L’Astrologie et les sciences occultes. Paris: J. Gabalda et Cie.Google Scholar
  19. Flügel, Gustav. 1872. Kitāb al-Fihrist, 2 vols. Leipzig: F.C.W. Vogel.Google Scholar
  20. Fraser, Kyle A. 2004. Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch: Alchemy as Forbidden Knowledge. Aries 4: 125–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fück, Johann W. 1951. The Arabic Literature of Alchemy According to al-Nadīm (A.D. 987). A Translation of the Tenth Discourse of the Book of the Catalogue (Al-Fihrist) with Introduction and Commentary. Ambix 4: 81–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gildemeister, Johannes. 1876. Alchymie. ZDMG 30: 534–538.Google Scholar
  23. Giumlia-Mair, Alessandra. 1996. Das Krokodil und Amenemhat III. aus el-Faiyum. Antike Welt 27: 313–321.Google Scholar
  24. Giumlia-Mair, Alessandra. 2002. Zosimos the Alchemist – Manuscript 6.29, Cambridge, Metallurgical Interpretation. In I bronzi antichi: produzione e tecnologia (Atti del XV Congresso Internazionale sui Bronzi Antichi, organizzato dall’Università di Udine, sede di Gorizia, Grado-Aquileia, 22–26 maggio 2001), ed. Alessandra Giumlia-Mair, 317–323. Montagnac: Éditions Monique Mergoil.Google Scholar
  25. Goeje, Michael Jean de. 1885. Ibn al-Faqῑn al-Hamaḏānῑ, Mukhtaṣar kitāb al-buldān. Leiden: Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum.Google Scholar
  26. Halleux, Robert. 1981. Alchimistes grecs, vol. 1: Papyrus de Leyde. Papyrus de Stockholm. Fragments de recettes. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  27. Halleux, Robert, and Paul Meyvaert. 1987. Les Origines de la Mappae clavicula. Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen-Age 54: 7–58.Google Scholar
  28. Hallum, Bink. 2008. Theosebeia. In Encyclopedia of Ancient Natural Scientists, eds. Paul Keyser and Georgia Irby-Massie, 302–303. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Hallum, Bink. 2009. The Tome of Images: An Arabic Compilation of Texts by Zosimus of Panopolis and a Source of the Turba Philosophorum. Ambix 56: 76–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hunter, Erika C.D. 2002. Beautiful Black Bronzes. Zosimos’ Treatises in Cam. Mm. 6.29. In I bronzi antichi: produzione e tecnologia (Atti del XV Congresso Internazionale sui Bronzi Antichi, organizzato dall’Università di Udine, sede di Gorizia, Grado-Aquileia, 22–26 maggio 2001), ed. Alessandra Giumlia-Mair, 655–660. Montagnac: éditions Monique Mergoil.Google Scholar
  31. Katsiampoura, Gianna. 2008. Transmutation of Matter in Byzantium: The Case of Michael Psellos, the Alchemist. Science & Education 17: 663–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Knibb, Michael A. 2009. Essays on the Book of Enoch and Other Early Jewish Texts and Traditions. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  33. Letrouit, Jean. 1995. Chronologie des alchimistes grecs. In Alchimie: art, histoire et mythe (Actes du 1er Colloque International de la Société d’Étude de l’Histoire de l’Alchimie), eds. Didier Kahn and Sylvain Matton, 11–93. Paris/Milan: S.É.H.A.- Arché.Google Scholar
  34. Martelli, Matteo. 2011. Pseudo-Democrito. Scritti alchemici con il commentario di Sinesio. Paris/Milan: S.É.H.A.-Archè.Google Scholar
  35. Massé, Henry. 1973. Ibn al-Faqῑn al-Hamaḏānῑ. Abrégé du livre de Pays. Damascus.Google Scholar
  36. Mertens, Michèle. 1983–1984. Un traité gréco-égyptien d’alchimie: la lettre d’Isis à Horus. Texte établi et traduit avec introduction et notes. Université de Liège: Mémoire de licence.Google Scholar
  37. Mertens, Michèle. 1995. Zosime de Panopolis. Mémoires authentiques. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  38. Mertens, Michèle. 2006. Greco-Egyptian Alchemy in Byzantium. In The Occult Sciences in Byzantium, eds. Paul Magdalino and Maria Mawroudi, 205–229. Geneva: La Pomme d’Or.Google Scholar
  39. Milik, Jazef T. 1976. The Books of Enoch, Aramaic Fragments of Qumrân Cave 4. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  40. Reitzenstein, Richard. 1904. Poimandres. Studien zur griechsch-ägyptischen und frühchristlichen Literatur. Leipzig: B.G. Teubner.Google Scholar
  41. Roberto, Umberto. 2005. Ioannis Antiocheni Fragmenta ex Historia Chronica. Berlin: De Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Scott, Walter. 1985. Hermetica, vol. 4: Testimonia with Introduction, Addenda and Indices by. A.S. Ferguson. Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  43. Strohmaier, Gotthard. 1991. Umāra ibn Ḥamza, Constantine V and the Invention of the Elixir. Graeco-Arabica 4: 21–24.Google Scholar
  44. Westerink, Leendert G. 1948. Michael Psellus, De Omnifaria Doctrina. Nijmegen: Centrale Drukkerij N.V.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ClassicsHumboldt Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations