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Ambiguities of the Prisca Sapientia in Late Renaissance Humanism

Author(s): Martin Mulsow


Source: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 65, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 1-13
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3654279
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Ambiguities
o f
th e P r isc a
Sa pientia
in
L a te Rena issa nc e Huma nism
Ma r tin Mulso w
Th e wisdo m o f th e
a nc ients, sa ys
Ma r silio
Fic ino ,
wa s a
pio us ph ilo so ph y.1
Bo r n
a mo ng
th e
Egyptia ns
with Her mes
Tr ismegistus-a nd, a c c o r ding
to
Fic ino 's la ter
wr itings, c o nc ur r ently a mo ng
th e P er sia ns with Zo r o a ster -it
wa s r a ised
by
th e Th r a c ia ns under
Or ph eus
a nd
Agla o ph emus.
It la ter ma tur ed
under
P yth a go r a s a mo ng
th e Gr eeks a nd Ita lia ns a nd c ulmina ted in P la to . As is
well
kno wn,
th is
genea lo gy
wa s no t
mer ely
a h isto r ic a l th esis f o r Fic ino a nd
h is f o llo wer s but a lso a
pr o gr a m
f o r
r eviva l,
a
uto pia
a c h ieved
th r o ugh
r esto r a -
tio n. Fo r th e a sser tio n o f a c o nc o r da nc e between th ese
ea r ly ph ilo so ph ies
a nd
th eir a c c o r da nc e with
Ch r istia nity-in
th e sense o f a Ch r istia n P la to nism-
implied
th e
synth esis
o f
f r a gementa r y ph ilo so ph emes
into a
f ully develo ped
do c tr ine in th e ser vic e o f a unif o r m a nd
timely ph ilo so ph ia pia .
Th is
pr o gr a m
wa s f o r mula ted in a
va r iety
o f
wa ys dur ing
th e sixteenth a nd
seventeenth c entur ies with
dif f er ing pr o ta go nists
a nd with diver se a ims. Th us
o ne c o uld
supplement
th e
genea lo gy
in a c a ba list
vein,
intr o duc e biblic a l c h a r -
a c ter s suc h a s So lo mo n o r
Mo ses,
o r
(a s
wa s do ne
by Br uno )
use it to c o ntest
Ch r istia n do c tr ine. Th e
genea lo gy
c o uld be r ea d a s
c ulmina ting
in va r io us no -
ta ble mo dem
f igur es
suc h a s f o r
exa mple,
P a r a c elsus. Ar isto tle c o uld be in-
c luded o r exc luded f r o m
it,
depending
o n wh eth er o ne wa nted to a ssimila te th e
Ar isto telia n tr a ditio n o r to dista nc e o neself f r o m
it;
a nd o ne c o uld lea ve th e end
Th is a r tic le wa s tr a nsla ted
by
Ja nita Ha ma la inen.
1
Ma r silio
Fic ino ,
"L etter to J.
P a nno nius," Oper a (Ba sel, 1553),
871 f f . See a lso h is
Th eo lo gie
pla to nic ienne
de l'immo r ta lite des
dmes,
la t. a nd f r . ed.
by Ra ymo nd
Ma r c el
(3 vo ls., P a r is,
1970), e.g. III, 148;
On
pr isc a th eo lo gia
o r
pr isc a sa pientia
see Da niel P .
Wa lker ,
Th e Anc ient
Th eo lo gy (L o ndo n, 1972);
Ch a r les B.
Sc h mitt,
"P r isc a
th eo lo gia
e
ph ilo so ph ia per ennis:
due
temi del Rina sc imento ita lia no e la lo r o
f o r tuna ,"
Atti del
Co nvegno
inter na zio na le di studi sul
Rina sc imento e sull' uma nesimo ita lia no
(1970), 211-35;
Mic h a el J. B.
Allen, Syno ptic
Ar t:
Ma r silio Fic ino o n th e
Histo r y o f
P la to nic
Inter pr eta tio n (Flo r enc e, 1998).
1
Co pyr igh t
2004
by
Jo ur na l o f th e
Histo r y
o f
Idea s,
Inc .
o f th is
genea lo gic a l linea ge o pen
in o r der to exh o r t th e
nec essity
o f a sc ientif ic
a nd mo r a l r ef o r m.
Her e, h o wever ,
we sh a ll be
o c c upied
with th e
questio n
o f wh a t bec a me o f
th is
pr o gr a m dur ing
th e la te
Rena issa nc e,
wh en two
develo pments
to o k
pla c e
simulta neo usly:
o n th e o ne
h a nd,
th e
uto pia
o f th e
pr isc a sa pientia
set a bo ut to
c o nquer
th e f ield
f o r mer ly
r eser ved to th e
Ar isto telia ns, na mely,
na tur a l
ph i-
lo so ph y;
o n th e o th er
h a nd,
th e f ir st do ubts a r o se a bo ut th e o ver a ll
va lidity
o f
th e
h isto r ic a l-ph ilo lo gic a l
f o unda tio n o f th e
pr o gr a m, espec ia lly
th e
da ting
o f
th e wo r ks o f Her mes
Tr ismegistus.
Th e la tter
bega n
with th e
public a tio n
o f th e
f ir st
pa r t
o f P a tr izi's Disc ussio nes
per ipa tetic a e
in
1571,
wh ic h a imed to r eh a -
bilita te, c o ntr a r y
to Ar isto tle's
c r itique,
o ld
pr eso c r a tic
na tur a l
ph ilo so ph ies,
a nd in so
do ing
it c lea r ed th e
wa y
f o r
inter pr eting
th e la test a dva nc ements in
no n-Ar isto telia n na tur a l sc ienc es a s
r esumptio ns
o f th ese
ver y ph ilo so ph ies.2
Th is initia ted a
per io d
o f
c o mplex
inter a c tio n between la te h uma nist
ph ilo lo gy,
inno va tive na tur a l
sc ienc e,
a nd
spec ula tive meta ph ysic s.
Th is
ph a se, h o wever ,
no t
o nly
enta iled th e
gr a nd synth esizing
endea vo r s
th a t o ne f inds in P a tr izi's No va de univer sis
ph ilo so ph ia ;
it a lso intr o duc ed
h isto r ic a l
c r itique-no
do ubt
pr o vo ked by
P a tr izi-o f th e Her metic
pr isc a
sa pientia ,
under sto o d in Fr a nc es Ya tes's
sense,
wh ic h wa s
per f o r med
in c a r e-
f ul deta il
lo ng
bef o r e Ca sa ubo n a t th e end o f th e Rena issa nc e.3
Fur th er ,
it wa s
a
ph a se
c h a r a c ter ized
by
a n
a ttempt
to r eeva lua te Ar isto telia n
ph ilo so ph y a ga inst
its
o ppo nents,
wh ic h
pa r a do xic a lly
wa s a lso mo tiva ted
by
P a tr izi
yet
wh ic h
ma na ged
to
keep
th e ventur e
o pen
to "eso ter ic "
depth s.
All o f th ese
develo p-
ments wer e
inter twined,
a nd ea c h ef f ec ted th e a r tic ula tio n o f
enc yc lo pedic
pr o jec ts
a t th e
beginning
o f th e seventeenth
c entur y.
On th e ba sis o f ma nu-
sc r ipts, letter s,
a nd so me
neglec ted texts,
I wa nt to intr o duc e two suc h c o unter -
c ur r ents,
wh ic h illustr a te h o w th e
migr a tio n
o f
a r guments
f r o m o ne c ultur a l
c o ntext to a no th er c a n lea d to
wh o lly diver gent
a nd
unexpec ted
r esults. Mo r e-
o ver ,
th ese r esults sh o w th e diver se
c o nsequenc es
th a t a
pr isc a sa pientia -uto -
pia
c o uld h a ve f o r dif f er ent visio ns o f
enc yc lo pedic sc h o la r sh ip.
I. In th e
bo o ksh o p
o f P a o lo Meietti in
P a dua ,
Teo do r o
Angeluc c i
a nd Anto -
nio P er sio met
a c c identa lly
o n a n a utumn
da y
in 1558. Meietti wa s th e
pub-
lish er o f
Angeluc c i's
medic a l textbo o k a s well a s o f texts
by
P a tr izi a nd h is
2Fr a nc esc o
P a tr izi,
Disc ussio nes
per ipa tetic a e (Ba sel, 1571).
3
See Fr a nc es A.
Ya tes,
Gio r da no Br uno a nd th e Her metic Tr a ditio n
(L o ndo n, 1966), 398,
"a nd
yet
th e
da ting by
Isa a c Ca sa ubo n in 1614 o f th e Her metic
wr itings
a s no t th e wo r k o f a
ver y
a nc ient
Egyptia n pr iest
but wr itten in
po st-Ch r istia n times,
is a wa ter sh ed
sepa r a ting
th e Rena is-
sa nc e wo r ld f r o m th e mo dem wo r ld. It sh a tter ed a t o ne blo w th e
build-up
o f Rena issa nc e
Neo pla to nism
with its ba sis in th e
pr isc i th eo lo gi
o f wh o m Her mes
Tr ismegistus
wa s th e c h ief .
It sh a tter ed th e wh o le
po sitio n
o f th e Rena issa nc e
Ma gus
a nd Rena issa nc e
ma gic
with its Her -
metic -Ca bba list
f o unda tio n,
ba sed o n th e a nc ient
Egyptia n ph ilo so ph y
a nd Ca ba lism. It sh a t-
ter ed even th e
no n-ma gic a l
Ch r istia n Her metic mo vement o f th e sixteenth
c entur y."
Ma r tin Mulso w 2
Th e P r isc a
Sa pientia
in Rena issa nc e Huma nism
c o llea gue Gia nnini,
a nd it is
po ssible
th a t P er sio wa s o ut to disc uss
publish ing
po ssibilities
f o r h is
f o r th c o ming ma nusc r ipt
De na tur a
ignis.
In
a ny c a se, th ey
wer e th er e f o r business-r ela ted
ma tter s,
so it wa s
quite
na tur a l f o r P er sio to
inquir e
a bo ut th e c ur r ent sta te o f th e
c o ntr o ver sy ta king pla c e
with in th e c ir c le
o f Meietti a uth o r s. Th e
c o ntr o ver sy
h a d sta r ted f o ur
yea r s
ea r lier wh en
Angeluc c i,
a
yo ung
ma n in h is
th ir ties,
a tta c ked P a tr izi in a
pa mph let.
Th e
la tter
r eplied,
a nd
f o llo wing
a no th er a tta c k
by Angeluc c i
let h is
student, Muti,
r eto r t.4
Dur ing
th ese f o ur
yea r s
th e deba te h a d
inc r ea singly
c enter ed a r o und a
ph ilo lo gic a l pr o blem
th a t
evidently
a ttr a c ted th e f o c us o f dissent: th e
questio n
o f wh eth er th e Her metic
dia lo gues,
o n wh o se
a ge
a nd
dignity
P a tr izi so
h ea vily
r elied wer e a uth entic in th e f ir st
pla c e. Angeluc c i
f r esh f r o m h is
so jo ur n
a s a
student in
P a r is,
under
ph ilo lo gist
Gilber t
Genebr a r d,
h a d been th e f ir st to in-
tr o duc e in P a dua a nd Venic e th e la tter 's
suggestio ns
o f a new
da ting.
Ac c o r d-
ing
to th ese
suggestio ns,
th e Her metic wo r ks did no t der ive f r o m Mo ses's times
but r a th er a muc h
la ter , po st-Ar isto telia n
da te. Yet it seems th a t in
suggesting
th is
(f o und
in th e new editio n o f h is
Ch r o no gr a ph ia
o f
1580)
Genebr a r d h a d
a ppr o pr ia ted ma ny
o f th e
a r guments
o f Ma tth ieu Ber o a lde.5 As a n ultr a -Ca l-
vinist, h o wever ,
Ber o a lde wa s
h a r dly
so meo ne wh o m th e Ca th o lic Genebr a r d
c o uld
c ite,
a nd th is seems a t lea st to c o nf ir m a n o bser va tio n ma de
by Anth o ny
Gr a f to n o n
Ca sa ubo n,
th a t th e
o r igina l
mo tiva tio n f o r
denying
Her mes
Tr ismegistus
h is
dignity
o f
a ge
wa s
spa r ked by
a P r o testa nt desir e to dif f er en-
tia te
c lea r ly
between
pa ga n
a nd Ch r istia n tr a ditio ns. It wa s
a lto geth er
una c -
c epta ble
th a t th e
pa ga n
Her mes sh o uld h a ve r ec eived a r evela tio n o f th e Ch r is-
tia n
myster ies
bef o r e Ch r ist a nd even bef o r e Mo ses.6 Th is is a
po sitio n
no t
o nly
4Teo do r o
Angeluc c i, Quo d
meta ph ysic a
sint ea dem
qua eph ysic a (Venic e, 1584);
Fr a nc esc o
P a tr izi, Apo lo gia
c a lumnia s Th eo do r i
Angelutii eiusque
no va e sententia e
quo d meta ph ysic a
ea dem
sintph ysic a
ever sio
(Fer r a r a , 1584);
Teo do r o
Angeluc c i,
Exer c ita tio num
Th eo do r iAngelutii
c um Fr a nc esc o P a tr ic io liber
pr imus,
in
quo
de
Meta ph ysic o r um
a uth o r e,
a ppella tio ne
et
dispo sitio ne disputa tur ,
et
quo d Meta ph ysic a
sint ea dem
qua e P h ysic a
iter um a sser itur
(Venic e,
1585);
Fr a nc esc o
Muti, Disc epta tio num
libr i V c o ntr a c a lumnia s Th eo do r i
Angelutii (Fer r a r a ,
1588).
See Fr eder ic P ur nell
Jr .,
"Fr a nc esc o P a tr izi a nd th e Cr itic s o f Her mes
Tr ismegistus,"
Th e
Jo ur na l
o f
Medieva l a nd Rena issa nc e
Studies,
6
(1976), 155-78,
a nd th e vo lume Da s Ende des
Her metismus. Histo r isc h e Kr itik und neue
Na tur ph ilo so ph ie
in der
Spa tr ena issa nc e.
Do kumenta tio n und
Ana lyse
der Deba tte um die
Da tier ung
der h er metisc h en
Sc h r if ten
vo n
Genebr a r d bis Ca sa ubo n
(1567-1614),
ed. Ma r tin Mulso w
(Tiibingen, 2002), esp.
Fr eder ic P ur ell
Jr .,
"A Co ntr ibutio n to Rena issa nc e Anti-Her metic ism: Th e
Angeluc c i-P er sio Exc h a nge,"
127-
60,
a nd Ma r tin
Mulso w,
"Rea ktio nir er Her metismus vo r 1600? Zum Ko ntext der venezia nisc h en
Deba tte iiber die
Da tier ung
vo n Her mes
Tr ismegisto s," 161-85;
a lso Ma r ia
Muc c illo ,
"P lo tino
nel ta r do
Rina sc imento ,"
Ar c h ivio sto r ic o
per
la Ca la br ia e la L uc a nia 61
(1994), 37-137, esp.
95-109.
5
See
P umell,
"A Co ntr ibutio n ...
(no te 4)," 139f f ,
a nd Ma th ieu
Ber o a lde, Ch r o nic um,
Sc r ip-
tur e Sa c r a e a uto r ita te c o nstitutum
(Geneva , 1575),
23.
6 See
Anth o ny Gr a f to n,
"P r o testa nt ver sus
P r o ph et:
Isa a c Ca sa ubo n o n Her mes
Tr ismegisto s"
in h is
Def ender s o f
th e Text: Th e Tr a ditio ns
o f Sc h o la r sh ip
in a n
Age o f
Sc ienc e,
1450-1800
(Ca mbr idge, Ma ss., 1991), 145-61, esp. 150, r ega r ding
Isa a c
Ca sa ubo n,
De r ebus sa c r is et
3
h eld
by
Ca sa ubo n but o ne th a t c a n be seen
a lr ea dy
in Ber o a lde.
Only th r o ugh
Ber o a lde's
(a lbeit c o ver t) guida nc e
did Genebr a r d a nd
Angeluc c i
c o me to r ea l-
ize th e
implic a tio ns ma king
th e new
da ting
o f Her mes una vo ida ble.
In th e
meeting,
P er sio
quer ied Angeluc c i
a bo ut h is
o pinio n
o n P a tr izi's
r eto r ts
th r o ugh
h is
student,
Muti.
Angeluc c i
knew P er sio to be a n o ld f r iend o f
P a tr izi a nd h enc e did no t
expec t
h im to side with h is o wn
po sitio n.7
He wa s
una wa r e o f th e f a c t-a nd
inc identa lly
una ble to disc er n it f r o m P er sio 's wo r d-
th a t
P er sio , to o ,
h a d been c o nvinc ed
by
Genebr a r d's
a r guments, ma inta ining
th a t th e
a lleged
da te o f th e Her metic wo r ks c o uld
by
no mea ns be c o r r ec t. Th e
enc o unter lef t
Angeluc c i
c o nf used.
Th us, Angeluc c i, upo n r etur ning
f r o m th e
bo o ksh o p,
sa t do wn a t h is desk
to wr ite a letter to P er sio wh ic h summa r ized th e
ma jo r a r guments a ga inst
Muti's
def ense o f Her metic ism
inc luding
th o se o f
Genebr a r d, Ber o a lde,
a nd
Go r o pius
Bec a nus.8 Th is
unpublish ed
letter
r epr esents by
f a r th e mo st
c o nvinc ing piec e
o f c r itic ism o n th e
a ge
o f th e Her metic wo r ks bef o r e Ca sa ubo n.
Th e
c o nsequenc es
o f th is sh o uld no t be o ver lo o ked. Th e letter wa s
sur ely
a n item o f disc ussio n in th e c ir c les o f liber a l sc ientists in P a dua a s well a s
Venic e, i.e., a mo ng P er sio , P inelli, Guila ndini, Aic a r di, P a ter o ,
a nd o th er s.
ec c lesia stic is exer c ita tio nes XVI
(Geneva , 1654),
67: "h a ec sa c r a e
Sc r iptur a e
testimo nia et h is
similia , qui
sta r e
po ssunt,
si ver um
est, pler a que
et ea
quidem pr a ec ipua
do c tr ina e Ch r istia na e
myster ia ,
etia m a nte Mo sem Gentibus f uisse
pr o po sita ?
Na m Mer c ur ium
Tr ismegistum
a nte
Mo sem
vixisse, siquidem
c er ta sunt
qua e
de eo
tr a duntur ,
nullum est dubium." See a lso J.
Ha r r ie,
"Duplessis-Mo ma y,
Fo ix-Ca nda le a nd th e Her metic
Religio n
o f th e
Wo r ld,"
Rena issa nc e Qua r -
ter ly, 31(1978),
499-514.
7
See th e letter f r o m P er sio to
Angeluc c i,
Biblio tec a
Co r sinia na , Ro ma ,
Ms. L inc eo
1,
f o l.
139r v,
edited in Da s Ende des Her metismus
(no te 4),
369f . "Dic o
dunque
c h e se ben V.S. si r ic o r da
qua ndo
c i a bba tessimo insieme
quel
di nella libr er ia del
Miglietti,
c h e io le dima nda ic o me si
so disf a va delle
r ispo ste
del Muti nella c o sa di
Her mete, per c h e
ivi mi
pa r ve
c h e se disf ida sse.
No n a d a ltr o f ine le f ec i c o ta l
dima nda ,
se no n c h 'io er a di c o ntr a r io
pa r er e
da l
Signo r P a tr itio ,
la
c ui
pa r te
c o lui
dif ende,
et mi a c c o sta va a ll'
o pinio n
del
Genebr a r do ,
il
qua l'6 seguita to
a nc h e da
V.S.,
il
qua le
no n
so ,
ne vo r r ei
(dissi io )
c h e h a veste muta ta
o pinio ne,
c h e sa f a tta
questa
sua
c r o no lo gia .
Et V.S. mi
r ispo se
c h e c i6 no n
sa ppeva ,
ma c h e in ta l ma ter ia si tr o va va h a ver sc r itto
pur a ssa i,
et si h a vesse f er ma ta in P a dua me l'h a ver ebbe
mo str a ta , quel po i
c h e dic esse il Mutio
di buo no no n h a ver a nc o r h a vuto
tempo
di
veder e,
ma veder a
po i
etc . Io le
r ispo si
di h a ver c i
h a vuto a c a r o di veder
quello
c h e
gia
h a veva
sc r itto , qua ndo
vi f o sse sta to
quel
c o mmo do c h e ella
dic ea , per
veder se io h o buo n
o ppinio n,
et no n a ltr o di c io si pa r lo . Ma
quell
c h e io vedo nella
sc r ittur a de
VS.,
ella intese tutto il
c o ntr a r io ,
c io 6 c h e io dic essi c h e m'a c c o sto et mi
pia c e
l'o ppinio n
del
P a tr itio ,
o nde s'h a
degna to
di sc r iver mi sia dif eso
per dissua der mi,
et r imo ver mi
da
quella o pinio ne.
Ma
io ,
c o me h o
detto ,
so no c o ntr o il
P a tr itio ,
il
qua le
c o me a mic io h o r r er ia
d'o f f ender lo c o ntr a dic endo li senza
pii
c h e f o r ti
r a ggio ni.
P er o h a vendo io
questo
inter esse in ta l
ma ter ia ,
et h a vendo visto
quelle r ispo ste
da te da l Muti c o si a ll' c o ntr a le
r a gio ni
del
Genebr a r do ,
delle
qua li
io mi ser vo in una mia
o pr a ,
mi
na que
desider io di dima nda r VS. a
quel tempo per
h a veme il suo
giuditio ,
il
qua le,
si c o me
pr ima
f u c o nf o r me a l mio a
seguir
il
Genebr a r do ,
c o si h o
tr o va to c h e lo dif ende do tta mente in
queste
sue
r ispo ste."
8 See Teo do r o
Angeluc c i
to Anto nio
P er sio ,
Biblio tec a
Co r sinia na , Ro ma ,
Ms. L inc eo 1,
f o l. 13 r -138r , edited in Da s Ende des Her metismus
(no te 4),
353-66.
Ma r tin Mulso w
4
Th e P r isc a
Sa pientia
in Rena issa nc e Huma nism
Th ese individua ls
to geth er
with th e c ir c le a r o und P a tr izi in Fer r a r a with wh o m
th ey
wer e in c lo se c o nta c t wer e
keenly
a wa r e o f th e wh o le
r a nge
o f
implic a -
tio ns
f o llo wing
f r o m th e
a r guments a ga inst
Her mes.
Indeed,
P a tr izi's No va de
univer sis
ph ilo so ph ia
wa s wr itten with th ese
ph ilo lo gic a l pr o blems
in mind.
Yet wh a t
impa c t
did it h a ve
upo n
sc ientists' view o n th e
pr isc a sa pientia ?
One
f inds a br o a d
spec tr um
o f
po sitio ns.
Fir st o f a ll we f ind th o se f o r wh o m th e
pr isc a sa pientia gr o unded
a n idea l c o nc o r da nc e. Th e th esis o f c o nc o r da nc e
h eld th a t a nc ient
wisdo m,
Ch r istia n
do c tr ine,
a nd
c o ntempo r a r y
na tur a l
ph i-
lo so ph ies
wer e
pr inc ipa lly
in a c c o r d.
Espec ia lly
a f ter th e Co unc il o f Tr ent th e
th esis seemed well-suited f o r
c o mbining
a r ef o r med o r ienta tio n with a r ef lec -
tio n o n
o r igins.
Th is a
pr isc a sa pientia
extr emism wa s o f ten linked with a
c er ta in
Egypto ph ilia
a s well a s a
c o nc eptio n
o f Her metic ism a s th e o ldest f o r m
o f h uma n wisdo m. P a tr izi a sser ted th is
po sitio n
(a s
did
Muti)
in
spite
o f so me
r eser va tio ns h e h a d
c o nc er ning no n-genuine
elements in th e
c o r pus
h er metic um
o r th e bo ta nist Guila ndini.9 Th is
extr emism, h o wever ,
wa s
h a r dly
sh a r ed
by
a ll
c ir c les in P a dua a nd Venic e. It seems th a t
Angeluc c i's
a c tivities
pla yed
a r ela -
tively signif ic a nt
r o le in
intr o duc ing
a mo r e mo der a te
pr isc a sa pientia
view
a r o und 1590.10 Th is c a n be under sto o d a s a
po sitio n th a t-a lth o ugh
a r tic ula ted
in
pa r t
a s a
quest
f o r th e
o r igins
o f
ph ilo so ph y
a nd
sc ienc e,
wh ic h wa s a ssumed
to be in
pr e-Ar isto telia n
a nd
pr e-P la to nic
times-do es no t tr a c e th ese
o r igins
ba c k to Her mes
Tr ismegistus. P er sio ,
f o r
exa mple,
wh o h a d
a c c epted Angeluc c i's
a r guments,
r ema ined r etic ent a bo ut
inter pr eting
Telesia n
ph ilo so ph y
in ter ms
o f
P a r menideism,
P yth a go r ea nism,
a nd
pr isc a sa pientia ,
a s wa s th e c a se with
th e extr emists. P er sio
mer ely
a dmited th a t th e
P yth a go r ea n
Oc ellus L uc a nus
wa s a
pr ec ur so r
to th e do c tr ine o f f o ur elements a nd
r ec o gnized
c er ta in
pa r a l-
lels between Telesio 's a sser tio ns a nd bo th
P yth a go r ea n geo metr y
a nd
P a r menides's
tea c h ings.11
P a ter no a ssumed a simila r
po sitio n.
Oth er member s
o f th ese c ir c les seem to h a ve c h o sen a th ir d
po sitio n
wh ic h tended to be indif -
f er ent to wa r ds th is sea r c h f o r
uto pia n o r igins.
Fo r th em
pr isc a sa pientia
wa s
no t even a n issue. Henc e th er e
existed,
a s
Na nc y
Sir a isi no tes
c o nc er ning
th e
P a dua n
P h ysic ia ns,
a wide
va r iety
o f
po sitio ns
o n th e no tio n
o f pr isc a sa pientia ,
r a nging
f r o m extr eme
suppo r t
to c o o l dissent.12
9 See
Anth o ny Gr a f to n, "Rh eto r ic , P h ilo lo gy, Egypto ma nia
in th e 1570s: J. J.
Sc a liger 's
Invec tive
a ga inst
M.Guila ndinus's
P a pyr us,"
Jo ur na l
o f
th e
Wa r bur g
a nd Co ur ta uld
Institutes,
42
(1979),
167-94.
0
See Ch a r les B.
Sc h mitt,
Ar isto tle a nd th e Rena issa nc e
(Ca mbr idge, Ma ss., 1983),
95f f .
n
See Anto nio
P er sio ,
De na tur a
ignis
et
c a lo r is,
Biblio tec a
Co r sinia na , Ro ma ,
Ms. L inc eo
VII a nd
VIII, esp. VII,
f o l.
54r sqq.; Mulso w, "P h ilo so ph ia
ita lic a a ls r eduzier te
pr isc a -sa pientia -
Ideo lo gie.
Anto nio P er sio s und Fr a nc esc o P a tr izis Reko nstr uktio nen der
Elementenleh r e,"
Da s
Ende des Her metismus
(no te 4), 253-80;
a lso
Mulso w,
Fr iih neuzeitlic h e
Selbster h a ltung.
Telesio
und die
Na tur ph ilo so ph ie
der Rena issa nc e
(Tiibingen 1998).
12
Na nc y
G.
Sir a isi,
"Her mes
a mo ng
th e
P h ysic ia ns,"
Da s Ende des Her metismus
(no te 4),
189-212.
5
Alth o ugh
a ll o f th r ee
gr o ups develo ped enc yc lo pedic pr o jec ts,
it c a n be
seen-a s Ann Bla ir sh o ws f o r th e ventur es f r o m Bo din to
Co menius,
th a t a
r eligio us (a nd,
o ne
migh t a dd,
a
myth ic a l
o r even
pa tr io tic ) ideo lo gy
mo tiva ted
th e
pr o duc tio n
o f
enc yc lo pedia s.13
Th e r ea so n f o r th is is
simple eno ugh :
if wis-
do m wa s
a lr ea dy pr esent
in th e
ver y beginning,
o r ,
if in its
divineness,
it h a s
a lr ea dy
been r evea led th en r esea r c h is in th e
po ssessio n
o f th e sec ur ed f unda -
ment o f th e wh o le. Th e
o r igin gua r a nteed
th e
unity
o f
kno wledge
wh ile a lso
dema nding
a
syno ptic tendenc y
in r ec o nstr uc tive
r esea r c h , wh ic h ,
r edisc o v-
er ed th is
o r igin.
If th is c a n be identif ied a s a
per va sive
mo tive
enc o ur a ging
th e
enc yc lo pedic pr o jec t
in
gener a l,
th en it sh o uld a lso be
po ssible
to see h o w th e
dif f er ent
po sitio ns r ega r ding
th e
pr isc a sa pientia
inf lec ted
enc yc lo pedic
wo r ks.
Her e,
we c o me a c r o ss a c er ta in
dif f ic ulty. Fo llo wing
th e enth r o nement o f
Clement VIII a s
po pe
in
1592, Her metic ism, P yth a go r ea nism,
a nd P la to nism
c o uld
o nly
be studied in a c la ndestine
ma nner ,
a nd th e r esult wa s th a t
ma ny
o f
enc yc lo pedic pr o jec ts
in th is vein r ema ined unf inish ed a nd
unpublish ed.
Of
c o ur se,
th e No va de univer sis
ph ilo so ph ia by
P a tr izi
r epr esents
a n
enc yc lo pe-
dic
pr o jec t by
a
pr isc a sa pientia
extr emist. It wa s
publish ed
in 1591 with th e
h o pe
o f
ga ining
th e Cur ia 's
a c c epta nc e,
but
by
1594 it h a d
a lr ea dy
bec o me a
vic tim o f
c enso r sh ip.14
Oth er
pr o jec ts belo nging
to th is
gr o up
wer e th e Her -
metic
enc yc lo pedia ,
wh ic h to o k th e f o r m o f a
c o mmenta r y by
Anniba le
Ro sselli,
Muti's lo st
wo r ks,
a nd Zo r o a ster
by
Jo h a nnes Jessen.15
Wh a t a bo ut th e mo der a tes wh o a r tic ula ted visio n o f
uto pia n o r igins
with -
o ut
r elying
o n Her mes? One c o uld
inter pr et P yth a go r ea nism
a nd Elea tic ism-
o r mo r e
spec if ic a lly
th e idea s wh ic h
emer ged
a r o und 1590 a s a r ef lec tio n o n
th e
a ntiquissima sa pientia
ita lo r um o r th e
ph ilo so ph ia ma gna e gr a ec a e-to
be
a
c o mpr o mising
r ea c tio n to th e
da ting
deba tes sinc e
Angeluc c i. Alth o ugh
th e
a dvo c a tes
o f th isph ilo so ph ia
ita lic a
ideo lo gy
wer e still led
a str a y by
a number
o f
pseudo -epigr a ph s, espec ia lly
th o se o f th e
a lleged
wo r ks o f Tima io s L o kr o s
a nd Oc ellus
L uc a nus, th ey
never th eless r ef r a ined f r o m
r ef er r ing
to Her mes.
Ano th er f a c to r th a t ma de th e mo der a te o r wea kened f o r m
o f pr isc a sa pientia
pa r tic ula r ly pa la ta ble
to na tur a l
ph ilo so ph er s
o f
ma inly
So uth er n Ita lia n
o r igin
(Ca mpa nella , P er sio , Muti,
a nd Stellio la a ll c a me f r o m
Ca la br ia )
wa s its inh er -
ent
pa tr io tism.
In P er sio 's wo r k o ne f inds no tes to th e tr a ditio n o f So uth er n
Ita lia n
ph ilo so ph er s;
a nd th e
yo ung Ca mpa nella ,
a f ter
visiting
P er sio in P a dua
13
Ann
Bla ir ,
"Mo sa ic
P h ysic s
a nd th e Sea r c h f o r a P io us Na tur a l
P h ilo so ph y
in th e L a te
Rena issa nc e," Isis,
91
(2000),
32-58.
14
See Tullio
Gr ego r y, "L 'Apo lo gia
e le Dec la r a tio nes di Fr a nc esc o
P a tr izi,"
Medio evo e
Rina sc imento . Studi in o no r e di Br uno Na r di
(Flo r enc e, 1955), I,
150-73.
15
See Ma r ia
Muc c illo ,
"Der sc h o la stisc h e Her metismus des Anniba le Ro sselli und die
Tr inititsleh r e,"
Da s Ende des Her metismus
(no te 4), 61-101;
see Ro bin B. Ba r nes: "Th e P r isc a
Th eo lo gia
a nd L uth er a n Co nf essio na l
Identity
c . 1600: Jo h a nnes Jessen a nd h is Zo r o a ster ," in
Spdtr ena issa nc e-P h ilo so ph ie
in
Deutsc h la nd,
ed. Ma r tin Mulso w
(f o r th c o ming);
Jo h a nnes
Jessen,
Zo r o a ster
(Wittenber g, 1593).
Ma r tin Mulso w
6
Th e P r isc a
Sa pientia
in Rena issa nc e Huma nism
in
1593,
wr o te a lo st
Apo lo gia pr o ph ilo so ph is Ma gna e
Gr a ec a e a nd th en in
subsequent yea r s,
kno wn a s h is
"P yth a go r ea n ph a se,"
th e f ir st extensive wo r ks
o n th e
subjec t.16
In 1595 th e
pr iso ns
o f Ro me witnessed sec r et disc ussio ns
between
Ca mpa nella ,
Nic o lo Anto nio
Stellio la ,
a nd
per h a ps,
a lso between
Stellio la a nd Br uno . Stellio la a imed to wr ite a n
Enc yc lo pedia pyth a go r ic a ,
wh ic h wa s to a ssimila te a ll inc entives
c o ming
f r o m
Br uno , P a tr izi, Telesio ,
a nd
Ca mpa nella .
Th is wa s to be a n
Enc yc lo pedia pyth a go r ic a ,
no t a n
Enc yc lo pe-
dia h er metic a . Even Stellio la 's
pr o jec t, by wa y
o f P er sio a nd
Ca mpa nella ,
c a n
be r ea d a s a n indir ec t r ea c tio n to th e
da ting
deba tes in
Veneto ,
but th e wo r k wa s
never f inish ed.17
It
a ppea r s
th a t
enc yc lo pedic th inking
a mo unted to a n
empir ic a lly-o r iented
f o r m o f
c o llec ting
f o r th o se wh o a bsta ined
a lto geth er
f r o m
po stula ting
o n
o r igina l
wisdo m. Fr a nc is Ba c o n under sto o d th e
sa pientia
veter um a s a f o r m o f
po etic
a nd
a llego r ic
wisdo m in th e
myth s
o f
a ntiquity. Simila r ly,
Ga lilei a nd th e a c tiv-
ists o f th e Ac c a demia dei L inc ei demo nstr a ted
o nly
a
wa ver ing
c o mmitment to
a h isto r ic a l
pr o gr a m.18
Yet th is c o nnec tio n is f a r f r o m
being
c er ta in. Neith er
c a n
my
tenta tive
typo lo gy
be
gener a lized beyo nd
th e milieu o f th e Ita lia n
Co unter -Ref o r ma tio n. As so o n a s th e c ultur a l
setting c h a nged,
th e
pa r a meter s
sta r ted to
sh if t,
a nd we enc o unter
c o mpletely
new c o nstella tio ns between c r iti-
c a l
ph ilo lo gy
a nd th e idea o f a
pr isc a sa pientia .
II. In a no th er f o r tuito us
meeting
in a
bo o ksh o p,
th is time in Venic e in
1601,
Er nst
So ner ,
a student o f Medic ine f r o m Altdo r f a nd
c ur r ently
in P a dua to
study,
wa s
r umma ging th r o ugh
th e r ec ent
public a tio ns. Ha ving
c o me to Venic e
eith er to
pic k up
o r to
c h a nge
so me
mo ney,
h e seized th e
o ppo r tunity
"a s usua l"
16To mma so
Ca mpa nella ,
De
Sph a er a
Ar ista r c h i;
P h ilo so ph ia P yth a go r ic a ;
De
P h ilo so ph ia
Empedo c lis;
to th is
ph a se
see Nic o la
Ba da lo ni,
To mma so
Ca mpa nella (Mila n, 1965),
68f f . A list
o f P er sio 's
a na lo go us
no tes h a s been
pr eser ved
in Biblio tec a
Co r sinia na , Ro me,
Ms. L inc eo 1,
f o l. 147v.
17 See Nic o la
Ba da lo ni,
"II
pr o gr a mma
sc ientif ic o di un br unia no : Co la nto nio
Stellio la ,"
Studi
sto r ic i,
26
(1985),
161-75. Stellio la
publish ed o nly
th e
pla n: Enc lo pedia P yth a go r ic a
mo str a ta da Nic o l'Anto nio Stellio la
L ync eo (Na ples, 1616).
"L a
Enc yc lo pedia ,
Do ttr ina
a ntic h issima ,
f i
a pp6
li
sa pienti
di
quella eta ,
in so mma r iver enza : c o me Ma dr e delle Vir tf i
h uma ne,
& Ma estr a a mministr a tr ic e delle sc ienze
tutte,
& a r ti.... Gli a ntic h i
pensa va no
c h e tutte
le sc ienze e a r ti der iva sser o da un'unic a f o nte dette
So ph ia
da a ltr i
Ma gia
o
Sa pienza .
I
gr ec i
l'h a n c h ia ma to
Enc yc lo pedia ,
c ulmine e
c o mplemento
di tutte. Essi sta bilir o no c h e so lo i
miglio r i
e
pur i
di c uo r e vi
po tesser o
a c c eder e. A c a usa della dec a denza
mo r a le,
ne e r ima sto so lo il
no me,
per
c ui le
pa r tic o la r i pr o f essio ni
so n r esta te nel so lo
a ppo ggio
del c r eder e a lli sc r itti de ma estr i er
nell'a ppo ggio
della
pr o ba bilita
di
o pinio ni
er c o n c i6
mo ltiplic a ndo
le diver sita di
pa r er i
c h e
r estino
intr iga ti nell'inviluppo
de so f ismi."
18 See Silvia de
Renzi,
"II
pr o getto
e il f a tto . Nuo vi studi sull'Ac c a demia dei
L inc ei,"
Inter sezio ni,
9
(1989), 501-17;
Feder ic o Cesi e
la f o nda zio ne dell,
Ac c a demia dei L inc ei. Mo str a
biblio gr a f ic a
e do c umenta r ia
(Na ples, 1988);
Da vid
Fr eedber g,
Th e
Eye o f
th e
L ynx (New
Ha -
ven, Co nn., 2002);
a nd th e
desc r iptio ns
o f th e "L uc r etia n"
pr o gr a ms by
Vinc enzo Cesa r ini in
P ietr o
Redo ndi,
Ga lilei er etic o
(Tur in, 1983), esp.
c h . 3.
7
to br o wse in
bo o ksh o ps.
"In o ne o f
th em,"
So ner wr ites in a
letter ,
"I c a me
upo n
a
P h ysic ia n (...),
with wh o m I disc ussed a ll kinds o f medic a l a uth o r s.
Cesa lpino , to o ,
wa s mentio ned.
Th er eupo n
th e
gentlema n
a sked me wh eth er I
h a d ever enc o unter ed o r wo uld kno w a c er ta in Ger ma n
P h ysic ist by
th e na me
o f Ta ur ellus."19 So ner
r eplied
th a t h e h a d indeed
a lr ea dy
met Ta ur ellus o nc e
a nd
spo ke
with h im in
pa ssing.
In f a c t So ner h a d
a c tua lly
been a student o f
Ta ur ellus in
Altdo r f ,
but it seemed sa f er to th e Ger ma n L uth er a n no t to r evea l
h is P r o testa nt
identity ("no n
er a t
tutum,
ne h a er eseo s
suspic io nem
in me
c o nc ita r em").
His
c a utio n, h o wever ,
tur ned o ut to be unwa r r a nted a s th e inter -
lo c uto r intended
o nly
to
pr a ise
Ta ur ellus: "h e h a d never seen
a nyth ing,
h e
sa id,
mo r e subtle a nd a stute th a n h is
'Alpes
Ca esa e'...."
Still,
So ner r ema ined
a ppr e-
h ensive a bo ut
mentio ning
o th er bo o ks
by
Ta ur ellus sinc e th ese c o nta ined a
dec idedly
P r o testa nt
meta ph ysic s.
Wh a t c o uld h a ve mo tiva ted a
no r th er ly ph ilo so ph er po lemic a lly
to "tea r
do wn th e
Alps,"
to use Ta ur ellus's
pun
o n th e
na me, "Cesa lpino "
a nd in a
ma nner
th a t,
a s So ner 's
a c qua inta nc e ma inta ined,
"even
sur pa ssed Sc a liger 's
po lemic s
with Ca r da no in
subtlety?"20
Andr ea
Cesa lpino
wa s a f a mo us sc ien-
tist a nd
ph ilo so ph er
f r o m Ro me. Th e
questio n
o f h o w news o f Ta ur ellus's
a g-
gr essiveness
c o uld h a ve been dissemina ted o ver a dista nc e o f a th o usa nd kilo -
meter s,
f r o m Altdo r f to
Ro me,
bec o mes even mo r e
c o mpelling
if c o nsider ed in
ligh t
o f
Sc a liger 's
sta nc e to wa r ds th e Mila nese
ph ilo so ph er .
Of c o ur se
Ta ur ellus's inter ventio n h a d no t in f a c t been built
up
o ver suc h a
lo ng
dista nc e
but r a th er
quite
a sh o r t
o ne,
th a t
is,
to th e
neigh bo r ing
lec tur e h a ll in
Altdo r f ,
wh er e
P h ilipp
Sc h er b
a da pted Cesa lpino 's
idea s f o r
Ger ma ny.
Th is
a da pta tio n
by
Sc h er b h a s a
h igh ly c o mplex ba c kgr o und
a nd
equa lly c o mplex c o nsequenc es,
wh ic h sh if ts f r o m th e Venetia n
bo o ksh o p
to a Fr a nkf ur t milieu o f
publish er s,
h uma nists,
a nd mer c h a nts.
So ner wa s no t th e
o nly
student o f Ta ur ellus a nd Sc h er b a t Altdo r f . Th er e
wa s a lso Melc h io r
Go lda st,
to da y ma inly
kno wn to sc h o la r s o f o ld Ger ma n
9
Er nst So ner to Nic o la us
Ta ur ellus, P a dua ,
"die Vener is
sa nc to ," 1601, pr inted
in
Episto la e
c la r iss. Ger ma nia e medic o r um ... ta m
quo a d
h er metic a et
c h ymic a .
Qua m
etia m Ga lenic a
pr inc ipia ...,
ed. J.
Ho mung (L eipzig, 1661),
353f .: "Cum
nuper
Venetiis essem nummo r um
meo r um
c a usa , visita vi,
ut
so leo , a liquo t Biblio po la r um
ta bema s: f o r te f o r tuna inc idi in
quenda m
Medic um, c ujus
ta men no men no ndum sc ir e
po tui, quo c um,
c um mih i multus ser mo de va r iis
sc r ipto r ibus Medic is,
inter c a eter a mentio f ieba t
Ca esa lpini:
h ic ille me
inter r o ga ba t,
num
quid
vidissem a ut no vissem
quenda m ger ma num
Medic um Ta ur ellum:
c umque ego
a nnuissem &
vidisse me
illum
&
a llo quutum
in tr a nsitu
(disc ipulum
enim
ejus
me
ja c ta r e,
no n er a t
tutum,
ne
h a er eseo s
suspic io nem
in me
c o nc ita r em) nih il, inquieba t, unqua m
vidi subtilius a ut a c ur a tius
ipsius Alpibus c a esis, ma gnum ipsum
a ntea f ec i ex meth o do
pr a esa giendi, qua m
mir o o r dine &
singula r i
er uditio ne
c o ntextuit,
Wec ker um imita tus:
(h a ec
enim illius ver ba
f uer e)
sed h ic vir in
Alpibus c a esis,
videtur subtilita te
super a r e ipsum quo que Sc a liger um
c o ntr a Ca r da num."
20 See Nic o la us
Ta ur ellus, Alpes
Ca esa e,
Ho c est: Andr
Ca esa lpini
Ita li,
Mo nstr o sa et
super ba
Do gma ta ,
Disc ussa et Exc ussa
(Fr a nkf ur t, 1597),
a nd o n Ta ur ellus a nd
Siegf r ied Wo llga st,
P h ilo so ph ie
in Deutsc h la nd 1550-1650
(Ber lin, 19932),
148f f .
Ma r tin Mulso w
8
Th e P r isc a
Sa pientia
in Rena issa nc e Huma nism
ph ilo lo gy
o r h isto r ia ns o f
la w,
wh o f elt
o bliged
to a dminister a nd
sa f egua r d
th e
h eir o f Sc h er b a f ter h is dea th in 1605.21 In 1606 Go lda st c a me to
Fr a nkf ur t,
th e
to wn o f
publish er s
a nd
f a ir s,
with
h a r dly a ny mo ney
to wo r k a s a
pr o o f -r ea der .
One o f th e f ir st
publish ing
ventur es wa s to edit a nd
typeset
a new two bo o ks
f r o m Sc h er b's
sh elves,
sma ll wo r ks
by
th e P a dua n a nd
Bo lo gnese ph ilo so ph er
Otta via no
Fer r a r i,
wh ic h Sc h er b h imself h a d
br o ugh t a lo ng
f r o m h is iter ita lic um
in 1578/79.
Th ey
wer e
ph ilo lo gic a l
wo r ks o n
Ar isto tle, c o nc er ning
th e de
ser mo nibus exo ter ic is
(i.e.,
th e lo st
dia lo gues
o f
Ar isto tle).
L ike
Go lda st,
Sc h er b
f elt th em to be muc h mo r e th a n mer e
ph ilo lo gic a l ma r gina lia .
Bo th sa w th e
dif f er entia tio n between "exo ter ic " a nd "eso ter ic "
(o r "a c r o a ma tic ") ph ilo so -
ph y
a s th e
key
to
o ver c o mimg
th e c ur r ent c r isis o f
ph ilo so ph y
in P r o testa nt
Ger ma ny. Th er e,
th e Ra mists with th eir r educ tio n o f
pr o blems
to ma tter s o f
r h eto r ic a nd
to pic
h a d bec o me
inc r ea singly
inf luentia l in bo th
ph ilo so ph y
a nd
th eo lo gy.
Fo r th em
meta ph ysic s
wa s
o utmo ded,
a nd even
questio ns
o f tr a nsub-
sta ntia tio n wer e h eld
by
so me to be mer e ver ba l
suggestio ns.
On th e o th er
h a nd,
even in th e sc ientif ic
disc iplines
P la to nic -Her metic
spec u-
la tio n a nd inno va tio n wa s
winning gr o und
a nd
exer ting inc r ea sing c o mpetitive
pr essur e
o n
univer sity-tea c h ing. Ar isto telia nism,
wh ic h wa s
o nly sta r ting
to
bec o me esta blish ed in
Ger ma ny,
wa s
c a ugh t
in th e middle. It seems to me th a t
th e ver tic a l sc h ema o f
"f la ttening
vs.
deepening" r epr esented
o ne mo de o f
per -
c eptio n
wh ic h o f f er ed o r ienta tio ns in th is intellec tua l situa tio n. Sinc e Ar is-
to telia nism wa s
c a ugh t
in th e
middle,
a nd th e Ca lvinist a nd L uth er a n o r th o do x-
ies
(a s
Ro bin Ba r nes h a s
emph a sized c o nc er ning Jessen)
wer e still "plia ble"
a nd
ea sy
to
f o r m,
o ne c o uld
get
th e idea o f
o pening up
Ar isto telia nism to th ese
spec ula tive
tendenc ies.22
Th us,
wh a t Jessen tr ied to do with h is
a da pta tio n
o f
P a tr izi in 1593 in L uth er a n
Wittenber g
wa s likewise
a ttempted
o n th e Ca lvinist
side with Br uno
by Ra ph a el Eglin
in Zur ic h in 1595 a nd mo r e
c lea r ly
in
Ma r bur g
in 1609. A simila r endea vo r wa s ma de
by
Eilh a r d L ubin with Br uno a nd Her -
metic ism in L uth er a n Ro sto c k in 1598.23 In
gener a l
th e c o mmo n deno mina to r
in a ll th ese c a ses wa s th e
a ttempt
to
pr o ve
th e Ar isto telia n do c tr ine to be
la r gely
c o mpa tible
with tendenc ies a sso c ia ted with th e
pr isc a sa pientia uto pia .
In th is c o ntext a r ef lec tio n o n th e a nc ient dif f er entia tio n between eso ter ic
a nd exo ter ic
ph ilo so ph y
c o uld
pr o ve
to be
h elpf ul
in
distinguish ing
eso ter ic
Ar isto telia nism f r o m th e
f la ttening
exo ter ic mo de o f th e
Ra mists, a lth o ugh
th is
21
See Ma r tin
Mulso w,
"Die wa h r e
per ipa tetisc h e P h ilo so ph ie
in Deutsc h la nd. Melc h io r
Go lda st, P h ilipp
Sc h er b und die a kr o a ma tisc h e Tr a ditio n der
Alten,"
Fo r der n und Bewa h r en.
Studien zur
eur o pdisc h en Kultur gesc h ic h te
der
f r iih en Neuzeit,
ed.
Helwig
Sc h midt-Glintzer
(Wiesba den, 1996),
49-78.
22 See
Ba r nes,
"Th e P r isc a
Th eo lo gia
a nd L uth er a n Co nf essio na l
Identity
c . 1600."
23
Elilh a r d
L ubinus, P h o sph o r us (Ro sto c k, 1596).
See Die
P h ilo so ph ie
des 17.
Ja h r h under ts,
IV, Da s
Heilige
R6misc h e Reic h Deutsc h er Na tio n; No r d- und
Ostmitteleur o pa ,
ed. Helmut
Ho lzh ey
a nd Wilh elm
Sc h midt-Biggema nn (Ba sel, 2001),
24-26.
9
Ma r tin Mulso w
did enta il so me c o ntr a dic tio ns. We f ind th a t P a tr izi h a d
a lr ea dy
in 1571 de-
plo yed
th e eso ter ic /exo ter ic distinc tio n in o r der to
wipe
o ut Ar isto tle
by
ma in-
ta ining
th a t a ll o f Ar isto tle's eso ter ic a nd substa ntia l a ssets wer e
mer ely a ppr o -
pr ia ted
f r o m P la to nic
th inking.24
In
Ger ma ny,
h o wever ,
th er e wer e r ea so ns f o r
no t
simply subsuming
Ar isto tle under P la to . Th e existenc e o f a
po litic ized
Ar isto telia nism,
wh ic h
pa r tic ula r ly
a ttr a c ted men like
Go lda st, r epr esents
o ne
r ea so n,
a nd a no th er r ea so n wa s th a t Ar isto telia n
lo gic
a nd
meth o do lo gy
wer e
c o nsider ed to be
institutio na lly ir r epla c ea ble.
Go lda st wa nted to o f f er a
"deepened" Ar isto tle, just
a s Sc h er b h a d do ne in
h is
pr esenta tio n
o f
Cesa lpino 's Simplic ia n,
h is
Neo pla to nist inter pr eta tio n
o f
Ar isto tle. Go lda st
pr o c eeded ph ilo lo gic a lly by intr o duc ing
h is new editio n o f
Fer r a r i with a n
o pen
letter to th e
Ma r bur g
Ar isto telia n
Rudo lph
Go c lenius en-
titled De
c r yptic a
veter um
ph ilo so ph o r um disc iplina .
It desc r ibes th e a nc ient
pr a c tic e
o f
distinguish ing
in a sma ll c ir c le o f initia tes c er ta in tr a ditio ns f r o m
public ly
a c c essible wo r ks o r
lec tur es, wh er eby
th e la tter o nes
by
no mea ns a ll
enta iled a r c a na th a t c o uld be under sto o d
o nly by
th e
h igh ly
educ a ted.25
Go lda st,
h o wever ,
f a ils to a dmit th a t
la r ge pa r ts
o f h is wo r k wer e dir ec t
tr a nsc r iptio ns
o f
P a tr izi's Disc ussio nes
per ipa tetic a e.26
Go lda st wa s th us a s muc h a r ea der o f
P a tr izi a s
Jessen,
but h is
a ppr o a c h
to th e
pr o blems
wa s
explic itly ph ilo lo gic a l.
Two f a c ts indic a te h is wish to
inter pr et-o r
to inf iltr a te Ar isto telia nism in a n
"eso ter ic " ma nner in line with h is
f o r egr o unding
o f P a tr izi: f o r
o ne,
h e identi-
f ied P a r a c elsus a s th e f ir st o f th e mo dems to ta ke
up
th e a nc ient
pr a c tic e
o f
eso ter ic
deliver y,27
a nd
sec o ndly,
h e wa s a f r iend o f th e Ca lvinist a lc h emist
Ra ph a el Eglin,
wh o h a d a h a nd in th e editio n Go lda st wa s
pr o duc ing
a t th e
time in Fr a nkf ur t. No r do es it seem to me to be a c o inc idenc e th a t Jessen
pub-
lish ed a new editio n o f Ca r lo
Sigo nio 's
bo o k De
Dia lo go
in
1605,
in
wh ic h ,
a s
in th e wo r k o f
Fer r a r i,
th e
pr o blem
o f eso ter ic ver sus exo ter ic wa s r evisited.
24
See Ma r ia
Muc c illo ,
"L a vita e le
o per e
di Ar isto tele nelle Disc ussio nes
per ipa tetic a e
di
Fr a nc esc o P a tr izi da
Ch er so ,"
Rina sc imento II.s. 21
(1981), 53-119, esp. 89f f ;
M. J.
Wilmo t,
"Ar isto teles
exo ter ic us, a c r o a ma tic us, mystic us:
Two
Inter pr eta tio ns
o f th e
Typo lo gic a l
Cla ssif i-
c a tio n o f th e
Co r pus
a r isto telic um
by
Fr a nc esc o P a tr izi da
Ch er so ,"
No uvelles de la
Republique
des L ettr es
(1985),
67-95.
25
Melc h io r
Go lda st,
"De
c r yptic a
veter um
P h ilo so ph o r um disc iplina episto la
a d
Rudo lph um
Go c lenium
P h ilo so ph um Ma r pur gensem,"
Cla vis
ph ilo so ph ia e per ipa tetic a e
a r isto telic a e,
h o c
est: Oc ta via ni
Fer r a r ii,
Hier o nymi
F.
Medio la nensis,
De ser mo nibus
Exo ter ic is,
liber
unus,
et
de
disc iplina enc yc lic o ,
liber
a lter ,
nunc
pr imum
in Ger ma nia editi ex Biblio th ec a Melc h io r is
Ha iminsf eldii
Go lda sti
(Fr a nkf ur t,
1506
[r ec te:1606]),
3-33.
26
See a s well Go lda st's
exc er pts
f r o m P a tr izi: Sta a ts- und Univer sitdtsbiblio th ek
Br emen,
Ms. msa
0004/06;
a lso Ma r tin
Mulso w,
"Geleh r te P r a ktiken
po litisc h er Ko mpr o mittier ung.
Melc h io r Go lda st und
L ipsius'
Rede De
duplic i
c o nc o r dia im Vo r f eld der
Entsteh ung
der
pr o testa ntisc h en Unio n,"
Die P r a ktiken der Geleh r sa mkeit in der Fr iih en
Neuzeit,
ed. Helmut
Zedelma ier a nd Ma r tin Mulso w
(Tibingen, 2001), 307-47, esp.
320.
27
Go lda st,
"De
c r yptic a ,"
21: "P a tr um memo r ia exstitit
Th eo ph r a stus
P a r a c elsus
Helvetius,
qui
a d veter um
P h ilo so ph o r um
mo r em
pr imus
in Ger ma nia
c o epit
a lia
disc ipulis
tr a der e
pr iva -
tim et
f a milia r ibus,
a lia
public e pr o f iter i
in sc h o lis."
10
Th e P r isc a
Sa pientia
in Rena issa nc e Huma nism
III. We a r e th us ba c k with P a tr izi a nd th e f a milia r disc ussio n o n Her meti-
c ism a nd
pr isc a sa pientia , o nly
no w in a
spec if ic
Ger ma n milieu. We see h o w
th e
c o mplex
P a dua n deba tes o f 1588 h a d ta ken
up-a s
a n a f ter -ef f ec t o f th e
Disc ussio nes
per ipa tetic a e
a nd bef o r e th e No va de univer sis
ph ilo so ph ia -
Fr enc h Ca lvinist
skeptic ism r ega r ding
th e c la ims to
a ntiquity
o f no n-biblic a l
wisdo m in o r der to dir ec t it
a ga inst
th e c r itic s o f Ar isto tle. In
Ger ma ny
c r itic a l
deba tes wer e f o c used o n th e
"f la ttening" o c c ur r ing a mo ng
th e
o ppo nents
o f
meta ph ysic s,
so
pr o -Ar isto telia n a r guments
wer e
impo r ted
f r o m
Ita ly
th a t h a d
ser ved
quite
a dif f er ent
pur po se
th er e. In
Ita ly
th e Ra mist wo r ks wer e f o r bid-
den,
a nd th us th e r h eto r ic a l
"f la ttening"
f a iled to
emer ge
a s a sa lient issue in
th e sa me
wa y
a s it did in
Ger ma ny. Only
wh en r ea d
a ga inst
its c o unter c ur r ent
do es it bec o me
intelligible, na mely,
h o w in
Ger ma ny
a c r itic a l
ph ilo lo gist
suc h
a s
Go lda st-wh o ,
inc identa lly,
sh a r ed th e Ca lvinist c o nf essio n with Ber o a lde
a nd wa s a student o f Beza 's in Geneva -c o uld
a r gue
th e
o ppo site o f Angeluc c i.
Go lda st
suppo r ted
th e tr a ditio na l wisdo m o f th e "a nc ients" a nd th eir eso ter ic
pr a c tic e, yet
with o ut
c o nsider ing
th e
va lidity
o f Her metic ism.
Th e a c tivities o f Go lda st a nd
Eglin
a lso
belo ng
to th e
pr elimina r y ph a se
o f
th e
Her bo r enc yc lo pedic
ventur es in th a t
th ey o pened
Ref o r med
sc h o o l-ph i-
lo so ph y
to eso ter ic tendenc ies. If o ne under sta nds
"enc yc lo pedia "
th e
wa y,
f o r
exa mple,
Stellio la did
(i.e.,
in th e sense o f
enkyklio s pa ideia ,a n
eso ter ic educ a -
tio na l
pr a c tic e
th a t Fer r a r i
a ttempted
to
r ec o nstr uc t),
th en it is c lea r th a t
a ny
enc yc lo pedic
ventur e must
a uto ma tic a lly
be under sto o d a s a n eso ter ic
pr o jec t.
One h a s to
keep
in
mind, h o wever ,
th a t th e c h a r a c ter istic s wh ic h ma de
pr isc a sa pientia
a ttr a c tive a r o und 1600 wer e
pr ec isely
th e o nes th a t la ter c a me
under a tta c k. Th e end o f th e Her metic -P la to nic
pr isc a sa pientia r epr esented
a n
extended
pr o c ess enc o mpa ssing
numer o us
ph a ses:
it wa s a
pr o c ess
o f ma r -
gina liza tio n,
f r o m th e
uto pia
o f a n intellec tua l a va nt
ga r de
to a n
eigh teenth -
c entur y ideo lo gy
o f subc ultur a l a nd
subpo litic a l f r inge gr o ups.
It h a d ma nif o ld
c o nsequenc es
due to its va r ied c a uses. Th e
ph ilo lo gic a l depr iva tio n
o f its h is-
to r ic a l ba sis wa s
o nly
o ne suc h c a use. Th e
ph a se
o f a
c o mplex
blend o f
ph ilo l-
o gy,
na tur a l
spec ula tio n,
a nd Ch r istia n
meta ph ysic s o nly
c a me to a
c o mplete
h a lt with th e str ic t
develo pment
o f c o nf essio na l o r th o do xies. In th e c a se o f
P r o testa ntism th is o c c ur r ed
dur ing
th e f ir st h a lf o f th e seventeenth
c entur y
but
even ea r lier in Ca th o lic ism. Ano th er r esult o f
pr isc a sa pientia ,
wh ic h dif f er ed
f r o m th e
dispute
between
Angeluc c i
a nd
P a tr izi, bega n dur ing
P a tr izi's lif etime
with in Ca th o lic
c ir c les,
th a t
is,
th e
emer genc e
o f
a nti-P la to nism, ma inly a mo ng
Jesuits in P a tr izi's
Ro me, immedia tely f o llo wing
th e
public a tio n
o f th e No va
de univer sis
ph ilo so ph ia
a nd f o und its mo st
po igna nt expr essio n
in 1594
(th e
sa me
yea r
th a t witnessed th e denunc ia tio n o f P a tr izi's
bo o k)
in Gio va nn Ba tista
Cr ispo 's
De P la to ne c a ute
legendo ,
a text
h igh ly
esteemed
by
P o ssevino a nd
11
h is "selec tive"
r ea ding-dir ec tives.28
In P r o testa nt
Ger ma ny
th er e wer e no suc h
a uth o r ita r ia n dir ec tives f o r
a ppr o pr ia te r ea ding.
Never th eless,
th e mo tto de
eth nic is
ph ilo so ph is
c a ute
legendis guided
th e
pr o gr a m
o f th e h isto r ia n o f
ph i-
lo so ph y
Ja ko b Th o ma sius a nd bec a me a c o nc er n o f
ea r ly Enligh tenment
h is-
to r y
o f
ph ilo so ph y
a nd
th eo lo gy;
a nd
pa ga n ph ilo so ph y
wa s to be exa mined o n
wh eth er o r no t it wo uld o r
a lr ea dy
h a d
injec ted
h er esies into
Ch r istia nity.29
Apa r t
f r o m Her ma nn
Co ming's
c o nc ur r ent
a c c o mplish ments
in
setting
bo unds-
o nc e mo r e with Ca sa ubo n-to th e
bur geo ning
Her metic ism in th e Ger ma n
P a r a c elsia n milieu, o ne c a n
sa y
th a t th e
th eo lo gic a l
ver dic t a s suc h wa s o f f o r e-
mo st
impo r ta nc e
a r o und 1700.30 Wh a t wa s a t sta ke wa s th e
questio n
o f wh eth er
P la to nism wa s
r uining ea r ly
a nd
pur e Ch r istia nity.
Wh en Jo h a nn L o r enz
Mo sh eim in 1725 c ites Go lda st's De
c r yptic a veter umph ilo so ph o r um disc iplina ,
h e do es it with th e intentio n o f
disc r editing
a s a vic e th a t wh ic h f o r Go lda st h a d
been a
vir tue, na mely,
th e c la ndestine
pr a c tic e
o f
P yth a go r ea n
a nd P la to nic
a ntiquity.31
Fo r
Mo sh eim,
th is
pr a c tic e r epr esented
a
mo r a lity
o f
lies, dec ep-
tio n,
a nd c o nc ea lment
ef f ec ting
th e
Neo pla to nism
o f th e sec o nd a nd th ir d c en-
tur ies a f ter Ch r ist. Th is
ph ilo lo gic a lly enligh tened th eo lo gia n
viewed th e f a br i-
c a tio n o f
pseudo -epigr a ph s
a s
mo r a lly disc r editing
th e entir e eso ter ic
tr a ditio n,
a nd Br uc ker f o llo wed h im in th is
judgment.32
Th e
pr isc a sa pientia wa s,
in-
deed, dea d;
it wa s r ef uted
ph ilo lo gic a lly,
def ea ted
h isto r ic o -c r itic a lly by
th e
28 Gio va nni Ba ttista
Cr ispo ,
De
eth nic isph ilo so ph is
c a ute
legendis (Ro me, 1594);
c f .
Sylva in
Ma tto n, "Quelques f igur es
de
l'a ntipla to nisme
de la Rena isa nc e a
l'a ge c la ssique,"
Co ntr e P la to n.
1. L e P la to nisme
devo ile,
ed.
Mo nique
Dixsa ut
(P a r is, 1993), 357-413, esp.
401 f f : "De Bella r min
a
Cr ispo :
L a r ea c tio n
a ntipla to nic ienne po st-tr identine"; Muc c illo ,
"P lo tino nel ta r do
Rina sc imento ";
Tullio
Gr ego r y, "L 'Apo lo gia
e le Dec la r a tio nes di Fr a nc esc o
P a tr izi";
Anto nio
Ro to nd6,
"L a c ensur a ec c lesia stic a e la
c ultur a ,"
Sto r ia d'Ita lia
(Tur in, 1973), V, 1399-1492,
a nd
esp.
h is "Cultur a uma nistic a e dif f ic ulti di c enso r i. Censur a ec c lesia stic a e disc ussio ni
c inquec entesc h e
sul
pla to nismo ,"
L e
po uvo ir
et la
plume.
Inc ita tio n,
c o ntr o le et
r epr essio n
da ns
l'Ita lie duXVIe siec le
(P a r is, 1982), 15-50,
a nd see A. Enzo
Ba ldini,
"Ar isto telismo e
pla to nismo
nelle
dispute
r o ma ne sulla
r a gio n
di sta to di f ine
c inquec ento ,"
Ar isto telismo
po litic o
e
r a gio n
di
sta to ,
ed. A. Enzo Ba ldini
(Flo r enc e, 1995),
201-26.
29 See
Ra lph Ha f ner ,
"Ja ko b Th o ma sius und die Gesc h ic h te der
Ha r esien,"
Ch r istia n
Th o ma sius
(1655-1729).
Neue
Fo r sc h ungen
im Ko ntext der
Fr iih a uf klir ung,
ed. F. Vo llh a r dt
(Tiibingen, 1997), 141-64;
Ma r tin
Mulso w,
Mo der ne a us dem
Unter gr und.
Ra dika le
Fr iih a uf -
klir ung
in Deutsc h la nd 1680-1720
(Ha mbur g, 2002),
29 1 f f .
30 See Her ma nn
Co nr ing,
De h er metic a
Aegyptio r um
veter e
etpa r a c elsio r um
no va medic ina
liber unus
(Helmstedt, 1648, Helmstedt, 16992).
31 Jo h a nn L o r enz
Mo sh eim,
De c a ussis
suppo sito r um
libr o r um inter Ch r istia no s Sa ec uli I
etII
(Helmstedt, 1725),
h er e th e editio n o f th e text in h is Disser ta tio nes a d h isto r ia m ec c lesia stic a m
per tinentes, I, 217-65, esp.
254f f . See Ma r tin
Mulso w,
"Eine
Rettung
des Ser vet und der
Oph iten?
Jo h a nn L o r enz Mo sh eim und die h a r etisc h e
Tr a ditio n,"
Jo h a nn L o r enz Mo sh eim
(1693-1755).
Th eo lo gie
im
Spa nnungsf eld
vo n
P h ilo so ph ie, P h ilo lo gie
und
Gesc h ic h te,
ed. M.
Mulso w,
R.
Ha f ner ,
H.
Zedelma ier ,
a nd F. Neuma nn
(Wiesba den, 1997),
45-92.
32
See
Br uc ker ,
Otium vindelic um
(Augsbur g, 1729).
Ma r tin Mulso w
12
Th e P r isc a
Sa pientia
in Rena issa nc e Huma nism
elimina tio n o f
myth s
o f
o r igin,
a nd a s
Neo pla to nism
it wa s
mo r a lly suspec t.
And,
a s th e o ldest
sa pientia ,
Ch r istia n Th o ma sius wa s inc lined to under sta nd
th e
unspo iled simplic ity
o f th e
pr imitives.33
Suc h
wisdo m, h o wever ,
bo r e no
mo r e
enc yc lo pedic pr o jec ts.
Univer sity
o f Munic h .
33
See Ma r tin
Mulso w, "Gundling
vs. Buddeus:
Co mpeting
Mo dels f o r th e
Histo r y
o f P h i-
lo so ph y," Histo r y
a nd th e
Disc iplines:
Th e
Rec la ssif ic a tio n
o f Kno wledge
in
Ea r ly
Mo der n Eu-
r o pe,
ed. D. R.
Kelley (Ro c h ester , N.Y., 1997),
103-26.
13