Session Title

Prologues in Medieval Texts of Magic, Astrology, and Prophecy

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Research Group on Manuscript Evidence

Organizer Name

Vajra Regan

Organizer Affiliation

Centre for Medieval Studies, Univ. of Toronto

Presider Name

David Porreca

Presider Affiliation

Univ. of Waterloo

Paper Title 1

"Au Lecteur": Biblical and Occult References in Three Prologues from a Late Medieval Lapidary

Presenter 1 Name

Vajra Regan

Paper Title 2

Calming Turbid Waters and Skies: The Repurposing of Lucan's Pharsalia and Cosmological Knowledge in Juan de Mena's Laberinto de Fortuna

Presenter 2 Name

Zachary Severs

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Paper Title 3

Pierre d'Ailly and the Oraculum angelicum Cyrilli

Presenter 3 Name

Magda Hayton

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Missouri State Univ.

Start Date

8-5-2020 3:30 PM

Session Location

Bernhard 213

Description

Although the prologues of learned books of magic could take many forms, nearly all share at least one common characteristic: the claim to transmit a secret and pristine branch of knowledge. Such claims are frequently couched in the form of a narrative describing how this secret knowledge was originally revealed. Many employ the same actors (Hermes Trismegistus, King Solomon, Aristotle), the same objects (a tablet or disk made of precious material and inscribed with divine wisdom), and the same locations (a hidden cavern or lost pagan temple). These narratives helped to establish the authority of their texts, broadcast their affiliation with specific discourses, and signal how they should be read. Moreover, the prologues served to highlight the erudition of their authors through the use of classical and biblical references and often sophisticated word-play.

The aim of this session is to explore these still largely understudied prologues which testify to the variety of medieval approaches to 'magic'. What do these prologues have to tell us about the institutional, cultural, and political milieux in which they were produced? How do certain recurring mythemes found in these prologues stand in relation to the various magical and divinatory arts, specifically those classified as natural or demonic? And to which philosophical, mystical, or religious beliefs do they appeal in order to justify the magical practices that they introduce? This session explores such questions, challenges, and potentials. Mildred Budny

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May 8th, 3:30 PM

Prologues in Medieval Texts of Magic, Astrology, and Prophecy

Bernhard 213

Although the prologues of learned books of magic could take many forms, nearly all share at least one common characteristic: the claim to transmit a secret and pristine branch of knowledge. Such claims are frequently couched in the form of a narrative describing how this secret knowledge was originally revealed. Many employ the same actors (Hermes Trismegistus, King Solomon, Aristotle), the same objects (a tablet or disk made of precious material and inscribed with divine wisdom), and the same locations (a hidden cavern or lost pagan temple). These narratives helped to establish the authority of their texts, broadcast their affiliation with specific discourses, and signal how they should be read. Moreover, the prologues served to highlight the erudition of their authors through the use of classical and biblical references and often sophisticated word-play.

The aim of this session is to explore these still largely understudied prologues which testify to the variety of medieval approaches to 'magic'. What do these prologues have to tell us about the institutional, cultural, and political milieux in which they were produced? How do certain recurring mythemes found in these prologues stand in relation to the various magical and divinatory arts, specifically those classified as natural or demonic? And to which philosophical, mystical, or religious beliefs do they appeal in order to justify the magical practices that they introduce? This session explores such questions, challenges, and potentials. Mildred Budny