Latin critical editions of the Hermetic astrological corpus
– September 9 – October 8, 2007
– Footnote added, January 7th, 2016
In the past decade or so, the first few in a projected complete set of critical Latin editions of the Hermetic corpus have been published as part of a diverse and extensive academic series called the ‘Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis’. Details of the whole projected set, published and unpublished volumes included, are given on the following page.
As can be seen, at least two of the volumes already published (as denoted by an asterisk by the titles) include significant astrological texts:
De triginta sex decanis, ed. S. Feraboli
(CCCM 144, Turnhout 1994);
IV.4 Astrologica et divinatoria
Liber de stellis beibeniis, ed. P. Kunitzsch; Sefer Hermes, ed. F. Lelli
Liber de accidentibus, ed. P. Lucentini
Liber Antimaquis, ed. C. Burnett; Segullat ha-moah, ed. F. Lelli
Liber de spatula, ed. C. Burnett; Textus arabicus, edd. G. Bos – C. Burnett
Lectura geomantiae, ed. T. Charmasson
Appendix. Liber runarum, ed. P. Lucentini
(CCCM 144 C, Turnhout 2001).
I thought it would probably be worth investing in these as part of the collection I’m putting together, and have placed an order for them at a Belgian bookdealer accordingly. They do not seem to be available from Amazon or any other mainstream international bookseller source, new. Also, they are expensive, at over 150 Euros per hardcover volume, but I suspect that when they go out of print they’ll only become more so, if they can be found at all second-hand, which seems unlikely.
They seem to alternatively be available as short paperback pamphlets of about 35 pages with microfiche inserts, at a great saving on the cost of the full hardcover volumes, but that option is presumably only of use to libraries who have expensive microfiche viewing machines installed, not to private scholars and collectors.
PS: If you look through the long list of Hermetic editions on the page I linked to in my post above, you will notice that only a few of them bear a publication date and asterisk to indicate they have already been published. I can now confirm after further investigations that this is because the rest have not yet been published.
At least two of those without publication dates look set to be of interest to astrologers, beyond the two I already shortlisted that have been published. It may be worth ‘watching this space’ for when these ones are released:
IV.3 De quindecim stellis
[Enoch] Tractatus de quindecim stellis
[Thabit] De proprietatibus quarundam stellarum
Centiloquium, ed. D. Pingree
De quattuor confectionibus, ed. A. Sannino
(CCCM 144 B).
VI. Textus magici
[Hermes] De imaginibus sive annulis septem planetarum
[Hermes] Liber planetarum (Liber Saturni)
[Hermes] Liber Mercurii
[Hermes] De imaginibus et horis
[Hermes] Liber septem planetarum ex scientia Abel
[Hermes] Liber orationum planetarum septem
[Belenus] Liber imaginum Lunae
[Belenus] De viginti quattuor horis
[Belenus] De imaginibus diei et noctis
[Belenus] De quattuor imaginibus magnis
[Belenus] De discretione operis differentia ex iudiciis Hermetis
[Belenus] De imaginibus septem planetarum
[Toz Graecus] De lapidibus Veneris
[Toz Graecus] De stationibus ad cultum Veneris
[Toz Graecus – Germa Babiloniensis] Liber Veneris
[Toz Graecus – Germa Babiloniensis] De quattuor speculis
[Toz Graecus – Germa Babiloniensis] De duodecim annulis
[Germa Babiloniensis] Flores super opera artis magicae
ed. V. Perrone Compagni
Appendix. Glossulae super Librum imaginum Lunae, ed. S. Page
It took a whole month since I first ordered them, but copies of the two critical editions of the Hermetic corpus concerned with astrology to have been published so far in the Corpus Christianorum series have finally arrived here today.
These books were harder to obtain than I had expected. The first bookseller I ordered them through, based in Belgium, which is where the books are published, did not have them in stock, and placed an order with the publisher, Brepols, only to be informed by the publisher that they were no longer or in one case not currently available. I received this message only about ten days to two weeks after placing the order.
Brepols’s own website did not support this contention however, suggesting that both works were still available for purchase. Perhaps this was outdated catalogue information at the website, but in the meantime I had already chased up copies through a German bookseller instead, the Antiquariat-Versandbuchhandel Uwe Löb, placing my order on September 24th, this time with success, although it took a couple of weeks for the books to arrive within Europe.
Anyhow, they are red cloth hardcover volumes with gilt titling to cover and spine, designed and destined to last for centuries. The paper and printing quality is excellent. This exemplary material quality is no less than one would expect from academic editions costing 170-210 Euros per copy, which is considerably above Brill prices for volumes of the equivalent length, and on a par with K G Saur Verlag’s projected price for its delayed critical edition of Rhetorius’s astrological compendium.
Cost quibbles aside, the internal contents of the volumes, in summary, are:
(1) In the volume called ‘De Triginta Sex Decanis’, published 1994, which runs to XLIV + 357 pages:
- A short preface by project editor Paolo Lucentini of the Istituto Universitario Orientale Napoli, in Italian, followed by a lengthy introduction, also in Italian, anonymously written but presumably the work of the editor of this particular volume, Simonetta Feraboli;
- A five-page bibliography of critical editions of ancient astrological and related texts;
- A three-page bibliography of modern studies of some relevance;
- Eight plates showing samples from surviving institutionally housed manuscripts of ‘De Triginta Sex Decanis’;
- The Latin text, with footnotes including cross-references to relevant excerpts of other ancient astrological texts as well as extensive citations in Greek, and suggested identifications by their modern astronomical names of stars being referred to in the Latin text;
- Appendix One, consisting of an old French translation of Chapters 24 and 25;
- Appendix Two, containing:
- – An extensive multi-page chart showing the differences between the positions given by Hermes, Ptolemy, and in some cases also Hipparchus, for the same stars, by their modern names, as well as the Latin text Hermes uses to identify these stars and the Greek text Ptolemy uses alongside;
- A chart showing the different text and position identifications used by Hermes and Teucer to describe some groups of stars;
- and other similarly useful tables.
- An Index Auctorum, consisting of extensive cross-references by page between editions of famous texts by other ancient and early medieval authors and relevant chapter and verse identifiers in the present Latin text of Hermes;
- A more conventional index to the contents of the Hermetic text, in two differently-themed parts.
(2) In the volume called ‘Astrologica et Divinatoria’, published 2001, which runs to 454 pages including the introduction etc. that does not in this case receive its own separate pagination in Roman numerals:
- A preface in Italian by the project director, who remains Paolo Lucentini;
- The Liber de Stellis Beibeniis, edited by Paul Kunitzsch, with Arabic text and Latin translation, and extensive introduction in English, presumably by Kunitzsch, whose writings on the history of astronomy and astrology are quite often found in English although perhaps more often in German!
- Abu Ma’Shar’s ‘Kitab Ahkam Al-Mawalid’, Chapter XI, section I, in Arabic, with English translation by Kunitzsch;
- Fragmentum Pseudo-Aristotelicum (Hugo Santallensis): Latin text, edited by Charles Burnett and (the late) David Pingree;
- Sefer Hermes, with text in Hebrew and English translation and introduction, by Fabrizio Lelli;
- Liber de Accidentibus, edited (Latin text), with introduction in Italian, by Paolo Lucentini;
- Liber Antimaquis (Aristoteles / Hermes), edited by Charles Burnett, in Latin, with introduction in English;
- De Amicitia Vel Inimicitia Planetarum, edited by Charles Burnett (Latin text only)
- Segullat Ha-Moah (Sefer Astamakon), Hebrew text with English translation and introduction, edited by Fabrizio Lelli;
- Liber de Spatula, edited by Charles Burnett (Latin text), with English introduction;
- Liber Alius de Eadem, edited by Charles Burnett (Latin text only);
- Kitab Fi ‘Ilm Al-Katif (Al-Kindi), Arabic text with English translation, edited and translated by Gerrit Bos and Charles Burnett;
- Lectura Geomantiae, edited by Thérèse Charmasson, with introduction in French (text in Latin);
- Appendix, consisting of Liber Runarum, edited by Paolo Lucentini, with lengthy introduction in Italian;
- Brief indices.
So there you have it: a detailed outline of the contents of the two critical editions of the Latin astrological corpus so far published by Brepols. There have certainly been a lot of famous names in astrological scholarship at work there, Burnett, Bos and Kunitzsch prominent among them.
It seems however that students of historical astrological texts are also expected to be competent linguists of Latin, ancient Greek, Italian and French, even if some help is offered by way of translations when it comes to Hebrew and Arabic passages. I for one have a lot of catching up to do….
Footnote (January 7th, 2016):
Owing to the untimely death of the Hermes Latinus project director Paolo Lucentini in 2011, further volumes have not appeared on schedule. It remains to be seen who has stepped into his shoes and when the series will resume publication, or indeed if it will be completed at all.
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