By Sean Martin
Alchemy has usually been considered as 'the background of an error', an instance of mediaeval gullibility and greed, during which alchemists attempted to show lead into gold, create great wealth and locate the elixir of existence. yet alchemy has additionally been defined as 'the mightiest mystery guy can possess', and it obsessed the likes of Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and lots of of the founders of recent technological know-how. This ebook explores the background of the so-called Royal paintings, from its mysterious beginnings in Egypt and China, throughout the Hellenistic global and the early years of Islam and into mediaeval Europe. many of the maximum minds of the center a long time, figures akin to Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas have been attracted to alchemy, and mythical alchemists equivalent to Nicholas Flamel have been notion to have really succeeded to find The Philosopher's Stone. in the course of the Renaissance, Paracelsus and his fans helped revolutionise drugs, and through the 17th century, alchemy performed an important function in paving the way in which for contemporary technological know-how. through the 20th century, it grew to become a spotlight of curiosity for the psychologist Carl Jung and his fans, who believed that the alchemists had came upon the subconscious. during this absolutely revised version, Sean Martin has improved the sections on chinese language and Indian alchemy and has additional new fabric at the courting among alchemy and early sleek technological know-how, whereas additionally creating a clean evaluate of this such a lot enduringly mysterious and engaging of topics, to which all others were defined as 'child's play'.
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The newly appointed Papal legate to England, Guido Fulcode, heard of Bacon through an intermediary, one Raymond de Laon. The monk of Oxford, Fulcode learned, was possessed of wonderful secrets, and the legate determined to correspond with him. By the time the two made contact, Fulcode had become Pope Clement IV and, once he deemed it safe to do so, had Bacon released in 1267 on the condition that he wrote all his discoveries down into one book. Bacon did not write one book for the Pope. He was to write four.
In the laboratory, this pairing finds its expression in the alchemist working in conjunction with their partner: the soror mystica (mystic sister) and frater mysterium (secret brother). Zosimos and Theosebeia, Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, and Thomas and Rebecca Vaughan are celebrated embodiments of the essential complementary opposites of the Great Work. From the earliest times, women were seen as equal to men, and it was assumed that men and women should work together to perfect the Stone. Other variations on this pairing include the King and Queen, Man and Woman, and the Corascene Dog and Armenian Bitch.
Just as various groups had formed to translate the Greeks into Arabic four hundred years earlier, so the process was repeated in the West. The Archbishop of Toledo founded a college devoted solely to translating, and it was here that the greatest of the Latin translators worked. 1114–1187) is thought to have translated 76 texts, including works by Avicenna, Aristotle, Ptolemy and Jabir. Jabir’s posthumous career as a writer in Latin is an interesting one. Latinised, he becomes Geber (the G is soft), and manages to continue producing works more than three hundred years after his death.