Sie sind auf Seite 1von 29

Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 www.brill.

nl/esm

“Paradoxes, Absurdities, and Madness”:


Conflict over Alchemy, Magic and Medicine in the
Works of Andreas Libavius and Heinrich Khunrath

Peter J. Forshaw*
University of London

Abstract
Both Andreas Libavius and Heinrich Khunrath graduated from Basel Medical Acad-
emy in 1588, though the theses they defended reveal antithetical approaches to med-
icine, despite their shared interests in iatrochemistry and transmutational alchemy.
Libavius argued in favour of Galenic allopathy while Khunrath promoted the con-
trasting homeopathic approach of Paracelsus and the utility of the occult doctrine of
Signatures for medical purposes. is article considers these differences in the two
graduates’ theses, both as intimations of their subsequent divergent notions of the
boundaries of alchemy and its relations with medicine and magic, and also as evidence
of the surprisingly unstable academic status of Paracelsian philosophy in Basel, its
main publishing centre, at the end of the sixteenth century.

Keywords
alchemy, chrysopoeia, iatrochemistry, Paracelsianism, Hermetic philosophy, Physico-
Chemistry, medicine, hyperphysical magic, Basel, graduation theses, late sixteenth
century, allopathy, homeopathy, Signatures, weapon salve

Dogmatics, Chymiatrists & Paracelsians


In his Commentariorum alchymiae libri (1606), Andreas Libavius of
Halle (1560-1616) divides the medical sects of his day into the ‘secta
dogmaticorum’, that is, the followers of Galen and Hippocrates, and

*) I would like to thank Sachiko Kusukawa for her generous encouragement and infi-
nite patience, the journal’s referees for constructive challenges and helpful suggestions,
and the British Academy for their greatly appreciated postdoctoral fellowship.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 DOI: 10.1163/157338207X242465

book_esm13-1.indb 53 8-11-2007 12:38:24


54 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

two kinds of medical chemist. e Chymiatri base their practice on


conventional academic theory derived from the ancients, supple-
menting it with anything they find of use in the realm of chemically
prepared medicines,1 some of whom are wont to use Hermetic and
parabolic discourse but are nonetheless genuine chymiatrists. e
Paracelsisti, however, whom Libavius elsewhere calls the foremost
opponents of Aristotle,2 practise the magic in their master’s Philo-
sophia sagax, a book filled with necromancy, vain astrology, signatures,
uncertain arts, and the summoning of devils or spirits. eir works
are founded on paradoxes, absurdities and madness.3
Libavius, for his part, is a chymiatrist, defending his medical
theses in Basel on 5 July 1588, and a relatively well-known figure
in the history of chymistry, having been one of the two major
protagonists in Owen Hannaway’s e Chemists & the Word (1975).
ere he is presented as both a conservative reactionary to Paracel-
sianism and at the same time author of the “first definitive textbook”
of chemistry, the Alchemia of 1597.4 His opposite number in

1)
Allen G. Debus, e French Paracelsians: e Chemical Challenge to Medical and Sci-
entific Tradition in Early Modern France (Cambridge, 1991), 61-62.
2)
Prodromus vitalis philosophiae Paracelsistarum, in Andreas Libavius, Examen philo-
sophiae novae, quae veteri abrogandae opponitur (Frankfurt, 1615), 1-12, at 3.
3)
Andreas Libavius, Commentariorum alchymiae, pars prima, sex libris declarata (Frank-
furt, 1606), Aa2v-Aa3r: “[Paracelsus] qui propriam … sectam condidit coacervatis ex
omni paradoxorum absurdorumque & deliramentorum angulo portentis … In hac
Philosophia est ars Diabolos seu spiritus evocandi.” On Paracelsus and magic, see Kurt
Goldammer, “Magie bei Paracelsus,” in Kurt Goldammer, Paracelsus in neuen Hori-
zonten. Gesammelte Aufsätze. Salzburger Beiträge zur Paracelsusforschung 24 (Vienna,
1986), 321-342 and the third chapter of Goldammer’s Der göttliche Magier und die
Magierin Natur (Stuttgart, 1991). See also chapter 3 in Wolf-Dieter Müller-Jahncke,
Astrologisch-magische eorie und Praxis in der Heilkunde der Frühen Neuzeit (Stutt-
gart, 1985).
4)
Owen Hannaway, e Chemists & the Word: e Didactic Origins of Chemistry (Bal-
timore and London, 1975), 75, 80. Cf. J.R. Partington, A History of Chemistry (Lon-
don, 1961), 2: 247; Debus, French Paracelsians, 61. For more on Libavius, see
Wlodzimierz Hubicki’s entry in e Dictionary of Scientific Biography, ed. Charles
Coulston Gillispie (New York, 1973), 8: 309-312; Lynn orndike, “Libavius and
chemical controversy,” in A History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York,
1964), 6: 238-253; Robert P. Multhauf, “Libavius and Beguin,” in Great Chemists, ed.
Eduard Farber (New York and London, 1961), 65-79; Bruce T. Moran, Andreas

book_esm13-1.indb 54 8-11-2007 12:38:24


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 55

Hannaway’s account is Oswald Croll (1560-1608), who was himself


to spend some time as a student in Basel in 1591, author of “proba-
bly the main source from which a knowledge of Paracelsian medi-
cines and teachings became known,” the Basilica chymica (1609).5
One of the figures whose best-known work Croll praises as “most
worthy of perpetual memory” (as Libavius was fully aware) is
Heinrich Khunrath of Leipzig (1560-1605), who likewise defended
his medical theses at Basel, a month later than Libavius in August
1588, though his arguments reveal a radically different approach not
just to medicine, but to its relations with alchemy and magic.6 As
long ago as 1972, Frances Yates, aware of the English magus John
Dee’s 1589 record of a visit from Khunrath while in Bremen, wrily
noted that “Khunrath’s ‘Alchemist’ [was] expressive of the Dee kind
of alchemy,” by which she meant one mystical and emblematic, “the
kind of which Libavius disapproved.”7 Unfortunately, this does little
justice to the diversity of either Khunrath or Dee’s knowledge of
medieval and early modern alchemical texts or the extent of their

Libavius and the Transformation of Alchemy. Separating Chemical Cultures with Polem-
ical Fire (Sagamore Beach, MA, 2007). My thanks to Bruce Moran for allowing me
to read the manuscript of this book before publication.
5)
Oswald Croll, Basilica chymica (c.1609), 49. Partington, History, 2: 174-177. See
too Hannaway, Chemists, xi.
6)
Oswald Croll, Basilica chymica (Frankfurt, c.1609); facsimile repr. Hildesheim,
1996), Praefatio Admonitoria, 33 “Vide Amphitheatrum Khunradi cedro dignissi-
mum.” Cf. Oswaldus Crollius, Philosophy Reformed & Improved (London, 1657), 61
“worthy of perpetuall memory.” Andreas Libavius, Exercitatio alia de abominabili impi-
etate magiae Paracelsicae per Oswaldum Crollium aucta, in Examen philosophiae novae,
62 “Habetis totam Paracelsiam & Amphitheatrum rasybuli divinomagicum quod
Crollius cedro dignum iudicavit, nos ignibus addicimus haereticis.” rasybulus is a
pseudonym Khunrath uses in Vom hylealischen das ist pri-materialischen catholischen
oder algemeinem natürlichen Chaos der naturgemessen Alchymiae und Alchymisten
(Frankfurt, 1708; facsimile reprint Graz, 1990), 268.
7)
Frances A. Yates, e Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London, 1972; repr. 1996), 83.
e Private Diary of Dr. John Dee, ed. James Orchard Halliwell (London, 1842), 31.
For Libavius and Khunrath’s response to Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica, see my article
“‘Possibly the most obscure work ever written by an Englishman?’: e Early Alchem-
ical Reception of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica,” in Stephen Clucas, ed., Ambix: e
Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, 52/3 (2005), 247-
269.

book_esm13-1.indb 55 8-11-2007 12:38:24


56 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

practical laboratory experience.8 A positivist of a slightly different


cut, John Read acknowledges Libavius’s ‘text-book’ as “a blend of
alchemical mysticism and symbolism with sound chemical knowl-
edge,”9 while dismissing Dee as a ‘pseudo-alchemist’ and Khunrath
as one whose alchemy is “spiritual rather than material” and who
“exerted no influence upon the progress of alchemy towards
chemistry”.10 is judgement is apparently based solely on the object
of Croll’s praise, Khunrath’s baroquely illustrated Amphitheatrum
sapientiae aeternae (1609), which never presents itself as a work
strictly devoted to alchemy, but rather subsumes ‘Physico-Chemistry’
into a broader theosophical project.11 Read appears serenely unaware
of Khunrath’s extensive physico-chemical engagement with chrysopoeia,
that is, medieval transmutational alchemy and its attendant matter
theory in Vom hylealischen Chaos (1597) and Magnesia catholica philo-
sophorum (1599) or of his practical engagement with iatrochemistry
in Quaestiones tres perutiles (1607).12 Even though there can be little

8)
See, for example, Nicholas H. Clulee, “John Dee and the Paracelsians,” in Reading
the Book of Nature: e Other Side of the Scientific Revolution, ed. Allen G. Debus and
Michael Walton (Kirkville, MO, 1997), 111-132.
9)
John Read, From Alchemy to Chemistry (London, 1957; repr. New York, 1995), 72
(Khunrath), 75 (Dee), 87 (Libavius).
10)
On Libavius’s Alchemia, see John Read, Prelude to Chemistry: An Outline of Alchemy,
its Literature and Relationships (London, 1936; repr. Cambridge, MA, 1966), 31 “an
authoritative and comprehensive textbook”; 80 “the first work which has a claim to be
considered as a text-book of chemistry.” On the dismissal of Khunrath as a ‘spiritual
alchemist,’ see ibid., 81.
11)
Contrary to the almost exclusively alchemical focus of Ralf Töllner, Der unend-
liche Kommentar (Hamburg, 1991) and Urszula Szulakowska, e Alchemy of Light:
Geometry and Optics in Late Renaissance Alchemical Illustration (Leiden, 2000). Hein-
rich Khunrath, Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae solius verae: christiano-kabalisticum,
divino-magicum, nec non physico-chymicum, tertriunum, catholicon, ed. Erasmus Wol-
fart (Hanau, 1609). As this work is divided into two main parts with separate pagi-
nation, subsequent references will be to either Amphitheatrum I or II to avoid
confusion.
12)
For more on Khunrath’s alchemy, see my forthcoming chapter, “Subliming Spir-
its: Physical-Chemistry and eo-Alchemy in the works of Heinrich Khunrath (1560-
1605),” in “Mystical Metal of Gold”: Essays on Alchemy and Renaissance Culture, ed.
Stanton J. Linden (New York, 2007). For a brief account of the publishing history of
Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum, see Umberto Eco, Lo strano caso della Hanau 1609 (Milan,

book_esm13-1.indb 56 8-11-2007 12:38:25


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 57

doubt that the two Basel graduates had widely differing notions of
the extent of alchemy’s domain, in their enthusiasm for identifying
the heroes and villains of science Yates and Read misrepresent both
men by locating them at opposing extremes of their material-pro-
gressivist/spiritual-recidivist spectrum.
More recently, in Geheimnisse der Alchemie (1999), Manuel Bach-
mann and omas Hofmeier explicitly oppose Libavius and Khun-
rath, but this time with greater sympathy for the latter, underscoring
the significance of his theses as precious documentary evidence of
the academic recognition of the Paracelsian-alchemical interpretation
of nature in the medical faculty of Basel.13 In the process, they
present them as the very antithesis of those Libavius had defended
a month earlier. In this article I shall present some of the evident
differences in the two physicians’ graduation theses and use them
as the basis for providing some illustrations of subsequent distinctly
divergent intellectual trajectories, while considering some common
ground the two men shared at a time before alchemy had truly
gained any officially sanctioned status or disciplinary identity in
academia.14 Bearing Libavius’s division of contemporary medical
sects in mind, let us briefly consider the situation in Basel around
the time of his and Khunrath’s graduation.

Paracelsus in Basel
Paracelsus’s provocation of the Basel authorities in 1527, following
his appointment as medicus ordinarius on the medical faculty and
city medical officer, with his insistence on giving lectures in the
vernacular from his own writings rather than those of the revered
ancients and, so the story goes, his notorious burning of the works

1989). Extracts from Khunrath’s writings can be found in James Brown Craven, Doc-
tor Heinrich Khunrath, a Study in Mystical Alchemy (Kirkwall, 1919. Reprinted and
edited by Adam McLean. Glasgow, 1997).
13)
Manuel Bachmann and omas Hofmeier, eds., Geheimnisse der Alchemie (Basel,
1999), 157.
14)
For an informative discussion of the status of alchemy in medieval academia, see
William R. Newman, “Technology and Alchemical Debate in the Late Middle Ages,”
Isis, 80 (1989), 423-445.

book_esm13-1.indb 57 8-11-2007 12:38:25


58 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

of Avicenna, is well known, as are the details of the promotion of


his medical and alchemical writings after his death in 1541.15 From
around 1560, his followers vied with one another in translating,
editing, and writing commentaries on his manuscripts and Basel was
the main centre for this burgeoning Paracelsian publishing industry.16
ere Adam von Bodenstein (1528-1577), son of the radical reformer
Andreas Karlstadt, was instrumental in getting eighty books of
Paracelsus’s writings published, thirty of them translated from his
less accessible Swiss-German into Latin, and thus made available to
a far wider readership.17 e success of this endeavour can clearly
be seen in the records of the Frankfurt book fair, which show that
although the category ‘Libri cum Medici, tum Chemici’ does not
stabilise and become a permanent presence until 1594, German and
Latin editions of Paracelsus’s medical and alchemical works are by
far the most regular entries from Georg Willers’ first catalogue in
1564.18 Bodenstein paid a price, however, for his enthusiasm: on
27 January that very same year, having failed to heed the warnings
of the medical faculty about his ‘heretical opinions’ and having
published various books without its blessing, he was excluded from
the faculty and university council.19
is flood of Paracelsian publishing in Basel coincided with a
reinvigoration of the city’s medical school which in the last quarter
of the sixteenth century had become a popular destination for
scholars on their Peregrinatio medica.20 Since the reopening of the

15)
Partington, History, 2: 118. Ian Maclean, Logic, Signs and Nature in the Renaissance:
e Case of Learned Medicine (Cambridge, 2002), 31, 78, 90. Andrew Weeks, Para-
celsus: Speculative eory and the Crisis of the Early Reformation (New York, 1997), 104.
Albrecht Burckhardt, Geschichte der Medizinischen Fakultät zu Basel 1460-1900 (Basel,
1917), 29 considers the account of Paracelsus’s burning of Avicenna’s works a myth.
16)
Frank Hieronymus, “Paracelsus-Druck in Basel,” in Heinz Schott and Ilana Zin-
guer, Paracelsus und seine internationale Rezeption in der Frühen Neuzeit (Leiden,
1998), 36-57.
17)
Maclean, Logic, 37. For more on Bodenstein, see Wilhelm Kühlmann und Joachim
Telle, eds., Der Frühparacelsismus (Tübingen, 2001).
18)
Georg Willers, Die Messkataloge des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts. Faksimiledrucke her-
ausgegeben von Bernhard Fabian, 5 vols. (Hildesheim & New York, 1972).
19)
Burckhardt, Geschichte, 56-57.
20)
Bachmann and Hofmeier, Geheimnisse, 152.

book_esm13-1.indb 58 8-11-2007 12:38:26


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 59

school in 1532, following a three-year closure due to the religious


conflicts of the Reformation, instruction had been assigned to two
Chairs, the first Professor teaching Medicina theoretica, general
pathology and physiology, the second Professor teaching Medicina
practica, particular pathology, therapy and surgery.21 A year after
Libavius’ and Khunrath’s graduation, in 1589, with the construction
of the anatomical theatre,22 a third Professor was inaugurated to
teach Anatomy and Botany.23 Ian Maclean notes that Basel evinced
a particularly strong bias towards practical medicine, teaching being
closely allied with practical work, be that the collecting of herbs on
fieldtrips to avoid over-reliance on unreliable apothecaries, or ana-
tomical dissections.24 Such a hands-on approach would have found
favour with Spagyric physicians, who Paracelsus declared in De natura
rerum, “don’t loaf about … but find their entertainment in the
laboratory … ey stick their fingers into coals, dung and dirt; not
in gold rings.”25
ere had evidently been a certain openness to alchemy since
1536 when Martin Borrhaus first arrived in Basel as university
professor, to remain there practising both medicine and alchemy
until his death in 1564.26 Guglielmo Grataroli (1516-1568), who
became dean of the medical faculty in 1567, himself edited several
treatises concerned with the medicinal aspects of alchemy.27

21)
Burckhardt, Geschichte, 32-33 on the closure. See also Rudolf ommen, Geschichte
der Universität Basel 1532-1632 (Basel, 1889), 212.
22)
ommen, Geschichte, 228.
23)
Edgar Bonjour, Die Universität Basel, von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart 1460-
1960 (Basel, 1960), 168.
24)
Maclean, Logic, 31-32.
25)
Paracelsus, De natura rerum, neun Bücher, in Paracelsus, Opera (1603), 1: 906 “Ich
lob aber die Spagyrischen Artzet/ dann dieselbigen gehn nit umb Faulentzen/... sie
suchen ihr Kurtzweil im Laboratorio: ... Stossen die Finger in die Kolen/ in Koht und
Dreck/ und nit in die Guldene Ring.“
26)
Bachmann and Hofmeier, Geheimnisse, 173
27)
Nancy G. Siraisi, “e Fielding H. Garrison Lecture: Medicine and the Renais-
sance World of Learning,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 78/1 (2004) 1-36, at 17,
31.

book_esm13-1.indb 59 8-11-2007 12:38:26


60 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

e Basel Medical Faculty and Its Graduations


During the period of Libavius’ and Khunrath’s studies, Felix Platter
(1536-1614), author of De corporis structura et usu (1583), illustrated
with plates similar to those of Vesalius, was Professor of Practical
Medicine.28 ough never wholeheartedly in favour of Paracelsus,
Platter was at least an advocate of chemical therapy.29 e Professor
of eoretical Medicine, however, was sympathetic to the Paracelsian
cause. is was the polymath eodor Zwinger (1533-1588), disciple
of the anti-Aristotelian Huguenot Petrus Ramus, long-time corre-
spondent with the French Cabalist Guillaume Postel, and friend of
the Danish physician and professor of medicine Petrus Severinus,
one of the foremost promoters of Paracelsian medical philosophy
in his famous Idea medicinae philosophicae, published in Basel in
1571.30 Zwinger, who had previously been Professor of Greek and
Ethics, was author of the encyclopaedic eatrum vitae humanae
(1565), a work encompassing such subjects as physics, metaphysics,
medicine, theology, mathematics, astrology and magic, as well as
commentaries on Galen’s Ars medicinalis (1565), Aristotle’s Nico-
machean Ethics (1566), and the works of Hippocrates (1579).31 His
familiarity with Paracelsian ideas is evident in many of his letters
as well as in his Physiologia medica (1610), where he discusses Physio-
logia, Pathologia, Aetiologia, Semeiotice, and erapeutice Paracelsica.32
Zwinger died on 10 March 1588, several months before Libavius

28)
ommen, Geschichte, 225-228. On Platter, see Burckhardt, Geschichte, 64-89.
Andreas Vesalius had also spent time in Basel and his De humani corporis fabrica was
first printed there by Johannes Oporinus in 1543.
29)
Charles Webster, “Alchemical and Paracelsian medicine,” in Health, Medicine and
Mortality in the Sixteenth Century, ed. Charles Webster (Cambridge, 1979), 301-334,
at 317.
30)
On Zwinger, see Burckhardt, Geschichte, 89-95.
31)
eodor Zwinger, eatrum vitae humanae (Basel, 1565); In artem medicinalem
Galeni tabulae et commentarii (Basel, 1565); Aristotelis Stagiritae de moribus ad Nico-
machum libri decem (Basel, 1566); Hippocratis Coi Asclepiadeae gentis sacrae coryphaei
viginti duo commentarii tabulis illustrati (Basel, 1579).
32)
eodor Zwinger, Physiologia medica … eophrasti item Paracelsi totius ferè
medicinae dogmatibus illustrata (Basel 1610), Lib 1. Proscenia medica, Caput IIX. De
medicinae speciebus, 82-90.

book_esm13-1.indb 60 8-11-2007 12:38:27


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 61

and Khunrath defended their theses.33 Given that both candidates


had their theses printed ‘Typis Oporinianis’, owned by Zwinger’s
uncle Johannes Oporinus (who had himself been Paracelsus’s
amanuensis), it is even possible that he was their supervisor, though
his paraphrase of Agrippa and the Paracelsian Alexander von Suchten
in the eatrum that magic encompasses the three most excellent
concerns of the human mind: medicine, religion and astrology would
have found little favour with Libavius.34
Notwithstanding the exuberance of the Basel publishing industry
with respect to Paracelsian texts and Charles Webster’s observation
that by 1585 the works of Paracelsus and his followers were “widely
disseminated, and actively studied by both laymen and medical
practitioners,”35 the majority of Basel medical theses from the years
around 1588 make little mention of the Swiss chymist or his theories
and still display a bias towards material from Galen, Hippocrates
and Avicenna, be those disputations on sleep, waking, and comas
(1583), philosophical and medical actions (1584), the sympathies
and antipathies of the elements (1589), or the heartbeat (1592).36
is is not to say that none of the disputants had any regard for

33)
ommen, Geschichte, 245.
34)
Zwinger, eatrum, 3: 338 “Magica ars olim in magno precio fuit habita, quando-
quidem sola artium tres alias imperiosissimas humanae mentis complexa, in se unam
redegit: medicinam videlicet, religionem, & astrologiam.” Cf. Alexander von Suchten,
De secretis antimonij (Strassburg, 1570), 106 “Inde Magus dicitur non qui cum Dae-
monibus negotium habet: quod nobis plane interdictum est: sed qui eologiam,
Astronomiam, & Medicinam perfecte cognovit.” Zwinger’s characterisation of magic
as something once held in high esteem (olim in magno precio fuit habita), to my
mind at least, echoes Agrippa’s famous prefatory letter to Trithemius in De occulta phi-
losophia, where he asks “cur magia ipsa, cum olim primum sublimitatis fastigium uno
omnium veterum philosophorum iudicio teneret …tandem explosa a theologis, etc.”
See Cornelius Agrippa, De occulta philosophia libri tres, ed. V. Perrone Compagni
(Leiden, 1992), 68.
35)
Webster, “Alchemical and Paracelsian medicine,” 330.
36)
Petrus Monavius, De dentium affectibus theses inaugurales (Basel, 1578); Andreas
Christianus, Disputationes duae: prior, de somno et vigilia: posterior, de comate seu
cataphora (Basel, 1583); Henricus Lavaterus, ΕΝ∆ΟΞΑ philosophica & medica (Basel,
1584); Johannes Heinricus Cherlerus, ΠΕΡΙ ΤΩΝ ΣΤΟΙΧΙΩΝ eorumque ΣΥΜΠΑΘΕΙΑ
ΚΑΙ ΑΝΤΙΠΑΘΕΙΑ ΑΦΟΡΙΣΜΟΙ (Basel, 1589); Antonius Battus Haderslebius, eses
de palpitatione cordis (Basel, 1592).

book_esm13-1.indb 61 8-11-2007 12:38:27


62 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

Paracelsus: Peter Monau makes no mention of Paracelsus in his theses


on tooth complaints (1578), but shortly after his promotion he
writes letters to Zwinger, asking about his positive opinion of authors
who combine Paracelsian and Galenic teachings, in particular
Severinus and Gerard Dorn, whose Paracelsian writings were
published in Basel in the 1570s.37 Johann Runge, who graduated
the same year, with theses on ocular pathology that likewise include
no references to Paracelsus, shortly afterwards exchanges letters with
Zwinger discussing chemical authors, personal laboratory experiments,
such Paracelsian interests as the properties of mumia and tartar, and
how to formulate the principles of the new chymical knowledge into
a theoretical system in opposition to scholastic medicine.38 No
Paracelsian presence can be found, either, over a decade later in
Johann Scerbecius’s theses On Medico-philosophical Questions (1591),
notwithstanding his inclusion among the most famous chemical
physicians (including Paracelsus, Severinus, Dorn, DuChesne, Moffet,
Dee, Penot, Maier, and Hartmann) in the elegy De vera antiqua
philosophica medicina elegia (1608), which Ulrich Bollinger dedicated
to Oswald Croll.39 Despite their evident interest in matters Para-
celsian, they appear to have prudently exercised a truly spagyric
‘separation’ of public from private interests, for the sake of their
formal academic promotion. e argument could be adduced that
Paracelsian literature was not directly relevant to their disputations,
but this still does not explain why, for instance, Heinrich Schwallen-
berg’s 1588 theses on syphilis, a subject discussed at length by

37)
Frank Hieronymus, eophrast und Galen—Celsus und Paracelsus. Medizin, Natur-
philosophie und Kirchenreform im Basler Buchdruck bis zum Dreissigjährigen Krieg, 4
vols. and index (Basel, 2005), 3: 2578; Burckhardt, Geschichte, 63; Johannes Karcher,
eodor Zwinger und seine Zeitgenossen (Basel, 1956), 34. On Dorn, see Didier Kahn,
“Le debut de Gerard Dorn d’apres le manuscrit autographe de sa Clavis totius philoso-
phiae chymisticae (1565),” in Analecta Paracelsica: Studien zum Nachleben eophrast
von Hohenheims im deutschen Kulturgebiet der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Joachim Telle (Stutt-
gart, 1994), 59-126.
38)
Johannes Rungius, De praecipuis visus symptomatis eorumque causis physica & medica
contemplatio (Basel, 1578). See Hieronymus, eophrast und Galen, 3: 2581-2583.
39)
Johann Scerbecius, Περι των ’Απορηματων ὶατροφιλοσοφικων (Basel, 1591). See
Peter Voswinckel, “Der dänisch-lübeckische Arzt und Chymicus Johannes Scerbecius
(1553-1633),“ in Telle, Analecta Paracelsica, 305-334.

book_esm13-1.indb 62 8-11-2007 12:38:28


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 63

Paracelsus in works like Von der französischen Krankheit (1529), makes


no mention of him or chemical medicine, restricting itself instead
to Galen, a dietary regimen of melons and figs, pills including helle-
bore and guaiac, and the traditional recourse to purges and phle-
botomy.40 e same holds true for the theses of Michael Maier,
whose name is frequently linked with the Paracelsian worldview.41
Despite Huser’s inclusion of the Liber de caducis in Paracelsus’s Opera,
Maier’s utterly conventional eses de epilepsia (1596) lack any
reference to Paracelsian publications on the subject, cautiously
confining themselves instead to the classical authors, plus a few
moderns like Jean Fernel, Guillaume Rondelet, and Basel’s own,
Caspar Bauhin.42
Although Peter Bietenholz evokes an atmosphere of tolerance
among the Basel medical community, “sufficiently subdued to avoid
the occurrence of clashes,”43 it nevertheless appears that some of
the faculty’s well-known Paracelsian alumni encountered difficulties
over their promotions. e irenic Joseph DuChesne (c.1544-1609)
ended up having to receive his doctoral degree in a private ceremony
at Zwinger’s home in 1573.44 ough no reasons are given, Albrecht
Burckhardt suggests that DuChesne’s Paracelsianism was the

40)
Heinrich Schwallenberg, eses de morbo gallico et eius curatione (Basel, 1588).
Paracelsus wrote two large volumes on the “French disease“ in 1529: Von der franzö-
sischen Krankheit, drei Bücher and Von Ursprung und Herkommen der Franzosen samt
der Recepten Heilung, acht Bücher.
41)
See, for example, Frances A. Yates, e Rosicrucian Enlightenment (1972; rept Lon-
don, 1996), 73; W. Hubicki, “Michael Maier,” Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New
York, 1974), 9: 23; Hereward Tilton, however, argues against such descriptions of
Maier as a Paracelsian in e Quest for the Phoenix: Spiritual Alchemy and Rosicrucian-
ism in the Work of Count Michael Maier (1569-1622) (Berlin, 2003), 60-61.
42)
Michael Meierus, eses de epilepsia (Basel, 1596). See Hieronymus, eophrast und
Galen, 3: 2601-5. On Paracelsus and epilepsy, see Johann Huser’s edition of Paracel-
sus’s Opera (Strassburg, 1603), 589-626 Liber de caducis, Von Ursprung/ Ursach und
Heilung morbi caduci oder epilepsiae.
43)
Peter G. Bietenholz, Basle and France in the Sixteenth Century: e Basle Human-
ists and Printers in eir Contacts with Francophone Culture (Geneva, 1971), 64-65.
44)
Bietenholz, Basle and France, 71. On DuChesne’s ‘qualified Paracelsianism,’ see
Walter Pagel, e Smiling Spleen: Paracelsianism in Storm and Stress (Basel, 1984),
28.

book_esm13-1.indb 63 8-11-2007 12:38:28


64 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

motivation behind such secrecy.45 It may be that the faculty was


trying to avoid becoming embroiled in the bitter controversy kindled
by one of Zwinger’s former students, omas Erastus (1524-1583).46
en Professor of Medicine at the University of Heidelberg, later
Professor of Ethics in Basel,47 Erastus had published the first three
parts of his influential anti-Paracelsian Disputationum de medicina
nova Philippi Paracelsi the previous year, beginning with an attack
on Paracelsus’s magical remedies; the fourth and final part, chal-
lenging his approach to the treatment of epilepsy, making its
appearance in 1573.
e same year as Monau and Runge’s promotions in 1578, the
English physician omas Moffet (1553-1604) experienced more
than his fair share of difficulties in his promotion, despite the
support of both Platter and Zwinger. is was at least in part due
to his overt Paracelsian sympathies and his criticism of Erastus.
Moffet’s first disputation De venis mesaraicis obstructis (May, 1578)
seems not to have ruffled too many feathers, with just one brief
reference to Paracelsus and his Opus paramirum.48 His second dis-
putation, De anodinis medicamentis, initially published without the
Dean’s approval, was a different matter. Manfred Welti’s brief account
of what Moffet calls his ‘war of chemistry’ (chemiae bellum) describes
the faculty’s clampdown on heterodoxy and how Moffet was forced
to edit his theses, removing all attacks on Erastus and the orthodox
anti-paracelsians, and have them reprinted, reducing their number
from 111 to 40 in the process. Moffet’s promotion finally took place
almost a year later on 17 February 1579.49

45)
Burckhardt, Geschichte, 158-159.
46)
Bietenholz, Basle and France, 70.
47)
Webster, “Alchemical and Paracelsian medicine,” 328. See Charles D. Gunnoe, Jr.,
“Erastus and Paracelsianism: eological motifs in omas Erastus’ rejection of Para-
celsian natural philosophy,” in Debus and Walton, eds., Reading the Book of Nature,
45-66 and Charles D. Gunnoe, Jr., “omas Erastus and His Circle of Anti-Paracel-
sians,” in Telle, Analecta Paracelsica, 127-148.
48)
omas Moffet, De venis mesaraicis obstructis ipsarumque ita affectarum curatione,
theses sive pronunciata LX (Basel, 1578), esis LIV.
49)
Manfred Edwin Welti, Der Basler Buchdruck und Britannien: Die Rezeption briti-
schen Gedankenguts in den Basler Pressen von den Anfängen bis zum Beginn des 17. Jahr-
hunderts (Basel, 1964), 157f.; Hieronymus, eophrast und Galen, 1: 643.

book_esm13-1.indb 64 8-11-2007 12:38:29


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 65

Let us now turn to Libavius and Khunrath and take a brief look
at their graduation theses of 1588, the same year, incidentally that
Moffet, in his Nosomantia Hippocratea, provocatively lauded Paracelsus
as the “Hippocrates of the new age”.50

Libavius, Hippocrates and Contraries


Libavius’s thirty-two eses on the Pre-eminent and General View in
Healing, namely that in all erapy, Contraries are the Remedies of
Contrary ings,51 presented in July 1588, are a defence of the
ancient medical principle presented in Hippocrates’s Aphorisms, that
“Diseases caused by repletion are cured by depletion; those caused
by depletion are cured by repletion, and in general contraries are
cured by contraries.”52 For example, a hot, dry disease caused by
an imbalance of the bodily humors should be treated with a
medicine of an opposed cold moist quality.53 Libavius argues that
because the human body arises from mutable principles, it contains
the causes of its own corruption.54 If the body falls from a healthy
condition, nature exerts itself to restore the balance by means of a
contrary.55 When nature alone cannot succeed, it is acceptable to
provide assistance by the ‘ars adiutrix’ of medicine, imitating nature.56
It is the duty of a physician “to open the closed, correct the
distorted, and dry-up the moist.”57 It is slightly disconcerting to

50)
omas Moffet, Nosomantica Hippocratea (Frankfurt, 1588), sigs. A5r-6v, cited in
Webster, “Alchemical and Paracelsian medicine,” 330.
51)
Andreas Libavius, eses de summo et generali in medendo scopo, quod nimirum in
omni θεραπεύσει contraria contrarijs sint remedia (Basel, 1588), in Basel. Disputationes
medicae, 2: No 34. With grateful thanks to Dominik Hunger, archivist at Basel. See
Bachmann and Hofmeier, Geheimnisse, 156.
52)
Hippocrates, Aphorisms, II.xxii, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (Cambridge,
MA, 1931; repr. 1998), 4: 113; Libavius directly refers to this aphorism in his own
esis XXII.
53)
Libavius, eses, XVI.
54)
Libavius, eses, I.
55)
Libavius, eses, VIII.
56)
Libavius, eses, X and XI.
57)
Libavius, eses, XXIII “Exinde ex Hippocratis sententia, conclusa aperire, distorta
corrigere, humida resiccare.”

book_esm13-1.indb 65 8-11-2007 12:38:29


66 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

see the future arch-polemicist and controversialist presenting such


an anodyne set of arguments, possibly intended to honour, or curry
favour with, Zwinger, whose own parallel-text Greek and Latin
Hippocrates with commentaries had appeared in 1579.58 Frank
Hieronymus considers the theses to be an indication of the anti-
paracelsian direction Libavius was to express more forcefully in later
publications.59 e only intimation we have of his later acerbic bite
is the remark that “those who overturn this fundamental principle
… have either not understood the ancient dogma or arrogantly desire
to set up their own authority in its stead.”60 ough Paracelsus is
not named, Libavius is most likely alluding to his commentaries on
the Hippocratic aphorisms as well as his well-known rejection of
Galenic allopathy in favour of the homoeopathic belief popular to
German folk medicine that ‘like cures like’. Rather than administering
mild vegetable concoctions, Paracelsus argued that a competent
physician had to investigate the properties of poisons in order to
treat ‘modern’ diseases not discussed by the classical authorities, like
syphilis, and hitherto incurable ones like leprosy, epilepsy, dropsy,
and gout.61

Khunrath, Signatures and Sympathies


Khunrath’s defence stands only three places later than that of
Libavius on the Basel medical faculty register.62 On 24 August

58)
See Hippocrates, De flatibus, in Zwinger, Hippocratis Coi … commentarii, 287
“contraria contrarijs curare … Ex ijs quae morbo sunt contraria sciens quid adhibere
oporteat …”
59)
Hieronymus, eophrast und Galen, 3: 2587-2592, at 2591.
60)
Libavius, eses, XXVII: “Apparet itaque, eos qui evertendi hoc fundamentum
causa negant, omnino contraria curari contrarijs, sed similia quoque similibus: aut
non intellexisse veterum dogma, aut arroganter autoritatem eorum velle labefactare.”
61)
Paracelsus, Opera (1603), Commentaria in librum primum aphorismorum Hippo-
cratis, 695f; Außlegung der ersten 6. Aphorismorum libri secundi, 707f; Aphorismi primi
libri prima ein ander Außlegung, 710. See Udo Benzenhöfer and Michaela Triebs, “Zu
eophrast von Hohenheims Auslegungen der ‚Aphorismen’ des Hippocrates,” in Pa-
rerga Paracelsica: Paracelsus in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, ed. Joachim Telle (Stutt-
gart, 1991), 27-37.
62)
Bachmann and Hofmeier, Geheimnisse, 160.

book_esm13-1.indb 66 8-11-2007 12:38:30


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 67

Khunrath defended twenty-eight theses On the Signatures of Natural


ings, arguing for the revival of the occult doctrine of signatures
for medical purposes.63 e title of the theses more than likely
alludes to the already-mentioned De natura rerum, attributed to
Paracelsus, the ninth book of which bears the same heading as
Khunrath’s dissertation.64 Khunrath’s theses represent a “natural-
philosophical concept of a rational hermeneutic of nature,” one that
sees connections in all things and which orients itself to phenomena
on the assumption that the outward appearances, forms, and visible
symmetries of things reveal their inner qualities.65 ough Khunrath
never mentions him by name in his theses, the influence of
Paracelsus would have been abundantly clear to anyone familiar with
the Philosophia sagax or Astronomia magna (1537-8), so reviled by
Libavius, where he had argued for the importance of a knowledge
of signatures, for the identification of the occult properties of nature,
together with the validity of the ‘uncertain arts’ of physiognomy,
cheiromancy and metoposcopy, and the related study of astrology,
for diagnosis and prognosis.66 In his critique of scholastic medicine
in Labyrinthus medicorum errantium (1537-41), Paracelsus went so
far as to assert that magic was the ‘Anatomy of Medicine’ (Anathomia
Medicinae), its “mistress, preceptress and doctoress;”67 stressing the

63)
Heinrich Khunrath, De Signatura rerum naturalium theses (Basel, 1588), Univer-
sitätsbibliothek Basel, Diss. 148, No 52. See Hieronymus, eophrast und Galen, 3:
2592-2594.
64)
Paracelsus, De natura rerum, 880ff., Lib. 9. De Signaturis, 908-921.
65)
Bachmann and Hofmeier, Geheimnisse, 160 “ein natur-philosophisches Konzept
einer rationalen Hermeneutik der Natur.”
66)
Paracelsus, Astronomia magna: oder die gantze philosophia sagax der grossen und klei-
nen Welt, ed. Michael Toxites (Frankfurt, 1571), Lib. 1, sigs. 60v-63v “Probatio Partic-
ularis in Scientiam Signatam”; sigs. 63v-66r “Probatio in Scientias Artium Incertarum.”
On the ‘Conjectural arts or sciences,’ see Maclean, Logic, 315-326. On Signatures, see
Massimo Luigi Bianchi, Signatura Rerum: Segni, Magia e conoscenza da Paracelso a
Leibniz (Rome, 1987); Wilhelm Kühlmann, “Oswald Crollius und seine Signaturen-
lehre: Zum Profil hermetischer Naturphilosophie in der Ära Rudolphs II.,” in Die
okkulten Wissenschaften in der Renaissance, Wolfenbütteler Abhandlungen zur Renais-
ssanceforschung, ed. A. Buck (Wiesbaden, 1992), 103-123.
67)
Paracelsus, Labyrinthus medicorum errantium (Nuremberg, 1553), Cap. 9, sig. Gijv
“... sequitur quod Magica ars sit magistra, praeceptrix, ac doctorissa Medicinae,

book_esm13-1.indb 67 8-11-2007 12:38:31


68 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

difficulty of being experienced in medicine and grasping its innermost


heart for those ‘bunglers’ unacquainted with the arts of Cabala and
Magic.68 For the ardent Paracelsian, then, medicine and occult
philosophy were necessarily interconnected. With his insistence on
combined “knowledge through experience in the Oratory and
Laboratory,”69 Khunrath resembles Paracelsus, arguing that knowledge
gained by ratio et experientia should be augmented by, and ultimately
subordinated to, knowledge of a higher order. e true wise man
is θεοδιδακτος [theodidaktos], “taught by God”,70 either in hypnotic
visions or dream-revelations and union with good (‘hyperphysical’)
spirits.71 Like Paracelsus, Khunrath is prepared to resort to any art
that might serve the increase of knowledge, including “Magic and
her sisters, Physiognomy, Metoposcopy, Chiromancy and every
Doctrine of the Signature of Natural ings; Alchemy; Astrology
too, with her daughter Geomancy.”72
ough critical of him in later works, Khunrath does not, here,
reject Aristotle, who was after all believed to have himself composed
a work on physiognomy,73 but instead he Christianises the
Philosopher’s famous dictum from On the Heavens, declaring that
“God and Nature do nothing in vain,” arguing that everything has
been made by Him for a certain end.74 In contrast to Libavius’s

eorumque quibus morbos depellimus, non autem Galenus, non Avicenna, aut
tales.”
68)
Von dem Schwefel, in Paracelsus, Opera (1603), 1048 “Es ist ein grosser Grund die
Artzney zu erfahren/ und jhr in jhr Hertz greiffen. Aber diese Künst/Cabalia und
Magica, seind bey jhnen alle unbekannt: Es seind doch Sudler.“
69)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 42 “scientiam per experientiam in Oratorio & Labo-
ratorio.”
70)
Khunrath, Chaos (1708), 248: “θεοδιδακτοι, Divinitus edocti, von Gott gelehrte
Philosophi.”
71)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 168f.
72)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 91 “Mageia, & huic cognatae, Physiognomia, Meto-
poscopia, Cheiromantia, atque Doctrina de Signatura Rerum Naturalium omnis:
Alchemia; Astrologia quoque cum filia sua Geomantia.”
73)
See Zwinger, eatrum, 236. For Aristotle on physiognomy, see Aristotle, Minor
Works, trans. W.S. Hett (Cambridge, MA, 1936; repr.1993), 84-137.
74)
Khunrath, eses, sigs. Aijr I-2 “nihil reperiatur … cuius non sit certus ac determi-
natus in Natura usus”; esis IV “Deum & Naturam nihil facere frustra.” Cf. Aristo-

book_esm13-1.indb 68 8-11-2007 12:38:31


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 69

sole citation of the two ancient medical authorities, Galen and


Hippocrates, Khunrath invokes a wide variety of sources in support
of his statements: the officially sanctioned classical authorities
Aristotle, Galen, and Pliny, the thirteenth-century philosopher
Michael Scotus (c.1175-c.1234), author of the Liber physiognomiae
and De alchimia, Johannes de Indagine (1467-1537), author of works
on astrology, cheiromancy, and physiognomy, the two physicians
Leonard Fuchs (1501-1566) and Pier Andrea Mattioli (1501-1577),
both authorities on botany, Levinus Lemnius (1505-1568), student
of Andreas Vesalius and author of the popular De occultis naturae
miraculis (1567), and contemporaries like Joseph DuChesne, the
Czech astronomer Tadeáš Hajek (1525-1600), personal physician to
Rudolf II, and Claude Aubery, to whose Physiognomic syllogisms he
refers.75 From these sources Khunrath defends the idea that the
‘uncertain arts’ can identify the latent significations of men,76 and
argues that a knowledge of signatures can help recognise the
properties of plants, including Horsetongue, Lungwort, Winter
Cherry, Elm, Forget-me-not, and Fern, as well as the virtues of
stones, like the legendary Aetites (Eaglestone), Lapis Judaicvs (Jew
Stone), and Haematite (Bloodstone). By signatures, moreover, he
does not merely intend the qualities of things, their colours, smells,
and tastes, but also their ‘quantities’, their sympathetic and
antipathetic ‘magnetic’ virtues, their lines, notes and hieroglyphic
figures.77 In so doing, his theses move from the herba of traditional

tle, On the Heavens, trans. W.K.C. Guthrie (Cambridge, MA, 1939; repr. 1986), 31.
For a more antagonistic stance, see Chaos (1708), 39-40 for Khunrath’s discussion of
aether “… ungeachtet was Aristoteles vergebens dawider schwätzet/ seine Phan-
tastereyen/ Von Ewigkeit der Welt” (regardless of what Aristotle vainly prattles on
about it, in his phantasies about the eternity of the world).
75)
Khunrath, eses, sig. Avr esis XXV refers to “Ioseph. Quercetanus in suo Sclo-
petario”. is was DuChesne’s 1576 treatise on the treatment of gunshot wounds, in
which he promotes the benefits of the spagyric art. esis XXVI “Hinc Claudius
Alberius Triuncurianus, Losannae Latobrigorum professor Organicus, in posteriore
lib. prior. ἀναλυτ. suos extruit Physiognomicos syllogismos.”
76)
Khunrath, eses, sig. Aiijr esis IX “Ex hoc fonte, illa natura ex vultu & corporis
animalium habitu inspectio, Physiognomia vulgariter dicta, nec non Chiromantia &
Metoposcopia, suam accepêre originem.”
77)
Khunrath, eses, sig. Aijr esis VIII “Intelligimus autem per rerum naturalium

book_esm13-1.indb 69 8-11-2007 12:38:32


70 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

Galenic medicine to the lapides of the chymists, including in the


process the sympathies and hieroglyphics of magic. A similar
combination of Galenic and Paracelsian approaches can be found
in his most iatrochemical work, the ree highly Useful Questions
concerning the Treatment of … Tartarean Ailments of the Microcosm
(1607), dedicated to the “three great lights of Europe in our century,
eo-and-Philosophers, Spagyrics, famous Natural Philosophers and
Doctors […] Masters, Fellow-priests and his dearly loved Friends,”
DuChesne, Dee, and the Hamburg chymist Petrus Hollander.78
ere, while making the Paracelsian assertion that “there is a great
virtue not only in words and herbs, but also in stones,”79 he displays
an irenicism resembling that of his friend DuChesne, attempting
to reconcile both medical systems by arguing that their two central
axioms, “Similia similibus & contraria contrarijs, curantur,” in no
way contradict one other.80 In contrast to Libavius, however, Khun-
rath shows no interest in publishing recipes of medical remedies,
perhaps, as Lawrence Principe suggests in the case of Robert Boyle,81
reluctant to trivialise the status of alchemy, restricting its scope in
the manner of textbook writers, reducing it to the level of a technical
exercise to be carried out by distillers, refiners, and apothecaries;
indeed he is quite scathing about such books, lamenting, “Ah, God,
many hundreds of Process and Recipe-books are full of the said
sophistical stupidities and mal-chemical seductions.”82

Signaturas, non solùm Colores, Odores, Sapores: verùm etiam earundem Quantitates:
virtutes sympathicas & antipathicas, Magneticas dictas: Lineolas & Notas q. hiero-
glyphicas atque figuras, &c.”
78)
Heinrich Khunrath, Quaestiones tres, per-utiles, haud-quaquam praeter mittendae,
nec non summè necessariae cum curationem, tum praecautionem absolutam, perfectam &
veram arenae, sabuli, calculi, podagrae, gonagrae, chiragrae aliorumque morborum tar-
tareorum microcosmi seu mundi minoris, hominis puta, concernentes (Leipzig, 1607), sig.
A2v “Lumina, nostro seculo, Europae tria magna; eo-ac-Philosophos, Spagiros,
Physicos & Medicos Percelebres […] Dominos, Symmystas & Amicos suos longè cha-
rissimos.”
79)
Khunrath, Quaestiones, Civr “Non duntaxat in verbis & Herbis, sed & in Lapidi-
bus magna est Virtus.”
80)
Ibid., sig Bir.
81)
Lawrence M. Principe, e Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest
(Princeton, 1998), 186.
82)
Khunrath, Chaos (1708), 226: “Ach Gott! gesagter Sophistischer orheiten und

book_esm13-1.indb 70 8-11-2007 12:38:33


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 71

ere can be no doubt that Khunrath saw his doctoral research


as of-the-minute, for several years later in the first edition of his
Amphitheatrum, published in Hamburg in 1595, where he propounds
a theosophical union of Christian Cabala, Divine Magic, and
Physico-Chemistry, he praises Paracelsus for being the one who “most
fruitfully fetched this [Doctrine of Signatures] back from the darkness
of oblivion.” Explaining that “Giovanni Battista della Porta of Naples
set it out in another fashion in [his] Phytognomonics” (on the signa-
tures of plants), he expresses the pride he feels at being “the first
of all since Paracelsus, Della Porta’s Phytognomonics not yet being
seen or available in Germany” to have “publicly taught and defended”
the Doctrine of Signatures.83 Although, in truth, the term ‘Signa-
tures’ had already appeared in Dorn’s Compendium astronomiae
magnae and Hajek’s Aphorismorum metoposcopicorum libellus, both
published in Frankfurt in 1584,84 Khunrath clearly saw himself as
a major proponent of this influential new, or revived, doctrine, which
was soon to be adopted by other Paracelsian physicians like
DuChesne and Croll.85 He assures his readers that Signatures are
the “Physico-medical Alphabet in the Book of Nature” and warns

Arg-Chymistischer Verführungen seynd viel hundert Process und Recept-Bücher


voll.”
83)
Heinrich Khunrath, Totique, celestis exercitus spiritualis, militiae, proximo suo fideli,
et sibimetipsi, naturae atque arti, Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae, solius verae (Ham-
burg, 1595), 17; Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 152 “Hoc Philippus eophrastus
Paracelsus … à tenebris oblivionis in lucem fructuosissimè revocavit: Iohan. Baptista
Porta Neapolitana in Phytognomonicis aliquo modo explicuit: Ego (post Paracelsum
primus omnium, Phytognomonicis Portae in Germania nondum extantibus nec visis)
ex consilio & decreto amplissimi Collegii Medici in Basileensium Academia pro Doc-
toris gradu in Medicina consequendo, Iehovah summo iuvante, esibus affixis viginti
octo, publicè docui atque defendi, Anno Christi 1588, die. 24. Augusti …” Della
Porta’s Phytognomonica … In quibus nova, facillimaque affertur methodus, qua plan-
tarum, animalium, metallorum, rerum denique omnium ex prima extimae faciei inspec-
tione quivis abditas vires assequatur was published in Naples, 1588.
84)
Gerard Dorn, Commentaria in Archidoxorum libros X. D. Doctoris eophrasti Para-
celsi ... quibus accessit Compendium astronomiae magnae eiusdem autoris (Frankfurt,
1584), 521ff.; T. Hagecii ab Hayck, Aphorismorum metoposcopicorum libellus unus
(Frankfurt, 1584), 20.
85)
Josephus Quercetanus, De priscorum philosophorum verae medicinae materia …
deque simplicium, & rerum signaturis tum externis, tum internis, seu specificis (Geneva,

book_esm13-1.indb 71 8-11-2007 12:38:34


72 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

that any physician who refuses to learn them will remain “one-eyed
(monoculus) and lame in medicine.”86

Defining Practices: Physico-Medicine and Physico-Chemistry


In the Amphitheatrum, Khunrath also provides definitions of his
various practices, ones that immediately locate him in the camp of
Hermetic philosophers, with his promotion of the doctrine of cor-
respondences between the greater and lesser worlds. Physico-Medicine
is defined as “the art of knowing the great Book of Nature (macro
and micro-cosmically); so that you might read … Yourself in the
greater World and vice versa, the greater World in Yourself; to
conserve the health of the human body and to expel ills from it.”87
Rather than the Galenic notion of sickness as an internal imbalance
of humours, we have instead the Paracelsian notion of disease as an
interloper needing to be ejected.88 Khunrath’s hermetic outlook is
explicit, too, in his definition of Physico-Chemistry, as “the art of
chemically dissolving …, purifying and suitably reuniting Physical
ings, the universal (macro-cosmically the Philosophers’ Stone;
micro-cosmically the parts of the human body) and the particulars,
everything in the inferior globe.”89 It is important to note that,
save for the reference to the micro- and macro-cosms, this definition
would have been relatively acceptable to Libavius who would find

1603); Oswald Croll, Basilica chymica (Frankfurt, 1609); Tractatus de signaturis inter-
nis rerum, seu de vera et viva anatomia majori & minoris mundi (Frankfurt, 1609).
86)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 152 “Hoc Alphabetum in Naturae libro Physico-
medicum, quod qui discere respuit, monoculus manebit & claudicans in Medicina.”
87)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 147 [mispaginated as 145] “Physicomedicina est ars
cognoscendi Librum Naturae (Macro & MicroCosmicè) magnum: ita, ut legere possis
... Temetipsum in Mundo maiore; & contra Mundum maiorem in Teipso: ad humani
corporis sanitatem tuendam, morbosque profligandos.”
88)
Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the
Renaissance (Basel, 1958), 140; Jole Shackelford, A Philosophical Path for Paracelsian
Medicine: e Ideas, Intellectual Context, and Influence of Petrus Severinus: 1540-1602
(Copenhagen, 2004), 185.
89)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 147: “Physicochemia est ars, methodo Naturae
Chemicè solvendi, depurandi & ritè reuniendi Res Physicas; Universalem (MacroCos-
micè, Lapidem Philosophorum. MicroCosmicè corporis humani partes […]) & par-
ticulares, globi inferioris, omnes.”

book_esm13-1.indb 72 8-11-2007 12:38:34


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 73

little to repudiate in Khunrath’s assertion that Physico-Chemistry


is an art of analysis, providing “the precious essences of Vegetables,
of Animals and their parts, of Minerals, of Stones, of Gems, of Pearls
and of Metals; and even the Philosophers’ Stone.”90 In Alchemia
Libavius similarly defines alchemy as the art of extracting perfect
magisteries and pure essences valuable to medicine, dividing alchemy
into two main parts: Encheria, knowledge of chemical procedure
and laboratory equipment, with further subdivisions into Elaboratio,
the chemical operations of solution, distillation and so on and Exal-
tatio, the production of higher activity in a substance; and Chymia,
description of substances and their properties, the magisteries, the
quintessence, and so forth.91 On a pragmatic level, the two men
share common interests: Libavius devotes many pages of De scevastica
artis (1606) to the discussion of laboratory design and equipment,
including detailed depictions of ovens, stills, and other laboratory
apparatus. In Warhafftiger Bericht vom philosophischen Athanore (1599;
1603), Khunrath similarly writes about his own new design for the
construction of an alchemical furnace, which even receives a fav-
ourable mention by Libavius.92 ose quick to distinguish the two
by pointing out the ‘theosophical’ and ‘hieroglyphic’ figures (Chris-
tian-Cabalist Sigillum Dei, Adam-Androgyne, alchemical Rebis, and
so forth) in Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum, could also bear in mind
William Newman’s moderation of Hannaway’s positivistic portrayal
of Libavius in the discussion of how he bases his laboratory plan
on Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad.93
Sometimes Libavius even finds himself drawing support from
Paracelsian works in the defence and promotion of chrysopoeia and
certain kinds of chymiatria, such as the use of potable gold, against
gainsayers like Nicholas Guibert (c.1547-c.1620), chief physician

90)
Ibid., 163 “Vegetabilium, Animalium partiumque eorundum, Mineralium, Lapi-
dum, Gemmarum, Margaritarum, & Metallorum Essentias praetiosas, subtilitatesque
salutariter efficacissimas.”
91)
Hubicki, Dictionary, 311; Partington, History, 253.
92)
Libavius, Examen philosophiae novae, 144.
93)
William R. Newman, “Alchemical Symbolism and Concealment: e Chemical
House of Libavius,” in e Architecture of Science, ed. Peter Galison and Emily omp-
son (Cambridge, MA, 1999), 59-77.

book_esm13-1.indb 73 8-11-2007 12:38:35


74 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

of the Papal States, the conservative Parisian Galenist, Jean Riolan


the elder (1539-1606), and Erastus.94 As Newman makes clear,
Libavius may be an Aristotelian, but of a far different sort to
Erastus.95 us, he makes ready use of the Paracelsian Bernard
Penot’s edition of Gaston Claveus DuClo’s Apologia chrysopoeiae et
argyropoeiae adversus omam Erastum (1598),96 and shows at least
a modicum of support for DuChesne and Turquet de Mayerne when
their alchemical medicine is censured by the Parisian faculty.97

Oratory & Laboratory—Separation or Union?


Despite some similarities, however, there is a fundamental difference
in philosophical outlook. While Libavius might acknowledge some
important services of Paracelsus in the realm of chemical medicine,98
in publications like Neoparacelsica (1594) and Examen philosophiae
novae (1615), he fiercely defends the culture of traditional education
and university auctoritas against the disruptive Paracelsian emphasis

94)
See, for example, Novus de medicina veterum tam Hippocratica, quam Hermetica
tractatus (Frankfurt, 1599), for his defence of chemical medicine, and Defensio et
declaratio perspicua alchymiae transmutatoriae opposita N. Guiperti (1604) against
Nicholas Guibert’s assault on transmutational alchemy in Alchymia ratione et
experientia (1603).
95)
See William R. Newman, Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Ori-
gins of the Scientific Revolution (Chicago, 2006), especially Chapter 2 on Erastus and
Chapter 3 on Libavius.
96)
Apologia chrysopoeiae et argyropoeiae adversus omam Erastum doctorum et profes-
sorum medicinae. In qua disputatur et docetur, an, quid, et quomodo sit chrysopoeia et
argyropoeia. Authore Gastone Claveo subpraeside Nivernensi. Nunc primum a Bernardo
G. Penoto a Porta S. Mariae Aquitano, cum annotationibus marginalibus edita (Geneva,
1598). On DuClo, see Lawrence M. Principe, “Diversity in Alchemy: e Case of
Gaston ‘Claveus’ DuClo, a Scholastic Mercurialist Chrysopoeian,” in Debus and Wal-
ton, eds., Reading the Book of Nature, 169-185.
97)
See Libavius, Alchymia triumphans de iniusta in se collegii Galenici spurii in academia
Parisiensi censura (Frankfurt, 1607), for his response to the anonymously published
Apologia pro Hippocratis et Galeni medicina adversus Quercetani librum de priscorum
philosophorum verae medicinae materia … Accessit censura scholae Parisiensis (Paris,
1603). is was itself a reaction to Duchesne’s De priscorum philosophorum verae
medicinae materia (1603).
98)
Partington, History, 244, 253.

book_esm13-1.indb 74 8-11-2007 12:38:35


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 75

Fig. 1. Oratory-Laboratory engraving from Heinrich Khunrath, Amphitheatrum Sapi-


entiae aeternae ([Hamburg], 1595). By courtesy of the Department of Special Collec-
tions, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

on the practitioner as inspired “ex revelatione occulta”, be that the


Light of Nature or the Light of Grace, in Khunrath’s case, for
example, signatures and dream-visions.99 e best-known illustration
in Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum is that of the Oratory-Laboratory (Fig.
1), with which he emphasises the necessary relation of theology and
natural philosophy, the inseparability of work and prayer, most
explicitly stated in his condemnation of those who “quite un-

99)
For Libavius’s rejection of the Paracelsian doctrine of two Lights, see Examen
philosophiae novae, 4. See Moran, Andreas Libavius, ch. 6. For more on Libavius’s
antiparacelsianism, see Carlos Gilly, “e ‘fifth column’ within Hermetism: Andreas
Libavius,” in Magia, alchimia, scienza dal ‘400 al ‘700 / Magic, Alchemy and Science
15th-18th Centuries, ed. Carlos Gilly, 2 vols. (Florence, 2002), 1: 409-415.

book_esm13-1.indb 75 8-11-2007 12:38:36


76 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

philosophically divide Oratory and Laboratory from one another.”100


While Libavius strives to separate these realms of existence, Khunrath
seeks to bring them together. Paracelsus had stated that “ese two
callings—the promulgation of the word of God and the healing of
the sick—must not be separated from each other. Since the body
is the dwelling place of the soul, the two are connected and the one
must open access to the other.”101 With the declaration that
“Cabala, Magic and Alchemy should and must be conjoined with
one another,”102 Khunrath reaffirms this on a more esoteric level.
Christoph Gottlieb von Murr recognised this in his argument that
Khunrath was the main person responsible for taking Paracelsian
science in a new direction, with theosophical, astrological, magical
and cabalistical inclinations.103 More recently, Antoine Faivre has
identified him as one of three ‘proto-theosophers’ (with Johann Arndt
and Valentin Weigel), responsible for incorporating Paracelsus’s
speculations about cosmic sympathies existing between different
levels of reality into a “more global vision”.104 Such an ambition
is evident, for example, in On Primordial Chaos, where Khunrath
writes:

In the Laboratory … I have seen the Green Catholic Lion of Nature and of the
physico-alchemists … I have with care Catholically taken the Green Line of the
Cabalists, naturally penetrating the whole world Catholically … [and] I have

100)
Khunrath, Chaos (1708), 252: “Das Oratorium und Laboratorium trennen sie
gantz unPhilosophisch von einander.”
101)
Paracelsus: Selected Writings, ed. Jolande Jacobi, trans. Norbert Guterman (Prin-
ceton, 1995), 68. Die drei Bücher des Opus Paramirum, in Paracelsus. Sämtliche Werke,
ed. Karl Sudhoff and Wilhelm Matthiessen, Part 1, Vol. 9, 70-71 “dan die zwo pro-
fession werden sich nicht von einander scheiden. dieweil der leib der selen haus ist, so
hangt eins am andern und öfnet ie eins das ander.“
102)
Heinrich Khunrath, De igne magorum philosophorumque secreto externo et visibili
(Strassburg, 1608), 95 “Kabala, Magia, Alchymia Conjugendæ, Sollen und müssen
mit und neben einander angewendet werden.“
103)
Christoph Gottlieb von Murr, Über den wahren Ursprung der Rosenkreuzer und des
Freymaurerordens (Sulzbach, 1803), 8.
104)
Antoine Faivre, eosophy, Imagination, Tradition: Studies in Western Esotericism,
trans. Christine Rhone (New York, 2000), 6.

book_esm13-1.indb 76 8-11-2007 12:38:36


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 77

smelt and tasted the Blessed natural Green of Natural Magicians, that naturally
cultivates all natural things.105

is may sound ‘mystical’ to the modern reader, but it does not
automatically mean that Khunrath blurs distinctions between natural
and supernatural realms of experience; indeed he is careful to clarify
that while man’s union with God is the concern of Cabala, the
fermentation of the Philosophers’ Stone is the work of Physico-
Chemistry.106
In Syntagmatis arcanorum et commentationum chymicarum (1613),
Libavius condemns those who “stray from true alchemy into magic,”
pointing the finger of blame at the famous medieval investigator of
alchemy and magic Albertus Magnus, at the Benedictine abbot
Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516) and his protégé, Heinrich Cor-
nelius Agrippa (1486-1535), author of the best-known encyclopaedia
of magic, De occulta philosophia (1533), and, predictably, at Para-
celsus.107 He singles out Khunrath and his Amphitheatrum as a
representative of that “conspiracy with devils,” ‘Magia Gabalistica,’
asking why Paracelsians corrupt the name of Jesus by cabalistically
writing IHSVH in the character of a cross, thereby breaking the
second commandment against taking God’s name in vain.108
Although he doesn’t name Khunrath here, anyone familiar with the
Amphitheatrum will immediately recognise a reference to its first cir-

105)
Khunrath, Chaos (1708), 91-93 “in Laboratorio ... ich sahe den Grünen Catho-
lischen Löwen der Natur und Naturgemässen Alchymisten ... ich hab in acht genom-
men die Grüne/ die gantze Weld Catholisch durchgehende Natürliche Lineam der
Cabalisten/ Catholisch ... ich hab gerochen und geschmecket die Gesegnete der
Naturgemässen Magorum Natürliche Grüne/ so alle Natürliche Dinge Natürlich zeu-
get.”
106)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 203.
107)
Andreas Libavius, Syntagmatis arcanorum et commentationum chymicarum (Frank-
furt, 1660), Appendix, 1615, 242 “Deinde non si à vera quoque Alchymia aliqui in
magiam deflectunt, crimen est ipsius Alchymiae: quale quid tributus Alberto, & Tri-
themio, & Agrippae, item Paracelso, &c.”
108)
Libavius, Examen philosophiae novae, 103 “Fundamentum diabolica magia der
Gabel-fahrt/ hoc est Gabalistica ... Nota columnas magiae falsas quibus se & alios
decipiunt magi: unica columna est conspiratio cum Diabolis ad aliquid ex sententia
faciendum. Amphitheatrum Trasybuli.” For further references to Khunrath’s Amphi-
theatrum, see also Examen, 62, 101, 144.

book_esm13-1.indb 77 8-11-2007 12:38:36


78 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

cular figure, the Sigillum Dei, featuring Christ resurrected surrounded


by Johann Reuchlin’s wonder-working Christian-Cabalist word
Ihsvh.109 One wonders about Libavius’s relations with Zwinger at
this point, for he must surely have been aware that Khunrath cites
the Basel professor’s Hippocratic Tables as a reference to Cabala, a
subject about which Zwinger must have had more than passing
knowledge, given his long-term correspondence with Postel.110
Libavius thoroughly disapproves of the doctrine of Signatures, for
it typifies the magical worldview that he wants to keep separate from
medicine and alchemy. In Examen philosophiae novae (1615), he
ridicules all those who write on signatures (naming Paracelsus,
DuChesne, Croll, Della Porta, and Severinus), quipping “what is
like a head helps the head, like a hand the hand, what is red, the
blood, … so all grapes, then, will help the heads of Bacchae,” before
going on to rail against other Paracelsian abominations like magical
mirrors, diabolical seals, and celestially infused gamahaea.111 As an
adherent of Aristotelian philosophy, with its insistence that action
only takes place through physical contact, he is particularly incensed
by the Paracelsian belief in action at a distance, as expressed in their
weapon salve, whereby wounds could be sympathetically cured by
anointing the weapon with a ‘magnetic’ ointment.112 For him this
must have sounded suspiciously close to other practices advocated
by Paracelsus, such as in De imaginibus, where he discusses magically
curing a person by anointing their image.113 e extent of Libavius’s
concern is already evident in the first of his Tractatus dvo physici

109)
Ibid., 28 “Si non depravant vias Dei rectas, cur in sua Cabala tam audacter pec-
cant contra secundum praeceptum? Cur in scripturis Paracelsicae exponendis In nom-
ine Iesu corrumpendo (scribunt enim IHSVH) in Iehouah charactere crucis, aliisque
tam sunt impij?” See Johann Reuchlin, De verbo mirifico (1494).
110)
François Secret, Les kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (Paris, 1964), 190. ey
corresponded for 14 years, from 1566 to 1580. Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 101.
Zwinger, Hippocratis Coi … commentarii, 37.
111)
Libavius, Examen philosophiae novae, 119; 121 “Num quod simile capiti est, caput
iuvat, quod manui manum, quod rubrum, sanguinem, quod album, lac, & sic dein-
ceps? Omnes ergo uvae ratione baccarum iuvabunt caput.”
112)
See, for example, Paracelsus, Archidoxes of Magic (London, 1655), 118. For more,
see Moran, Andreas Libavius, ch. 14.
113)
Pagel, Paracelsus, 149 n. 63.

book_esm13-1.indb 78 8-11-2007 12:38:37


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 79

(1594), where he proposes no fewer than 315 themata De hoplo-


chrismate impostorio Paracelsistarum, in which he argues against the
whole concept of magical attraction and rejects as impious the
proposition that wounds can be healed by the magnetic power of
medicine, because “God hates that attractive magic.”114 In stark
contrast, Khunrath, in De igne magorum (1608), defends the weapon-
salve and ridicules as ‘thick heads’ those who are incapable of
conceiving of any natural contact other than corporeal.115 Libavius,
however, always remains resolutely corporeal in his approach,
expressing his misgivings in letters to a fellow physician Sigismund
Schnitzer, warning him in 1599 that Paracelsians “don’t intend
natural metals, but magical, or mystical, or hieroglyphical,” and
pointedly remarking in 1607 that “Chymists seek spiritual remedies
against spiritual ills, but they are nevertheless corporeal things, they
are not cured by hyperphysical Spirits.”116 is fairly rare use of
the Greek term ‘hyperphysical,’ rather than the Latin ‘supernatural,’
is quite possibly a direct reaction against Khunrath who in the
Amphitheatrum describes his revelatory practice of “pious and useful
conversation … with good Angels” as ‘Hyperphysical Magic.’117

114)
Andreas Libavius, Tractatus duo physici; prior de impostoria vulnerum per unguen-
tum armarium sanatione Paracelsicis usitata commendataque; posterior de cruentatione
cadaverum in iusta caede factorum praesente, qui occidisse creditur (Frankfurt, 1594),
74 “Deum odisse magiam illam attractricem.”
115)
Khunrath, De igne, 74-75 “sie keinen andern Contactum Physicum, oder Natür-
liche berührung/ dann nur allein corporeum, Crassum (Ô Capita Crassa!) nec non
oculis corporeis visibilem, den Leiblichen/ groben (O grobe Köpff) und mit Leibli-
chen Augen sichtbarem wissen.”
116)
Libavius, in Sigismundus Schnitzer, Cista medica, quâ in epistolae clarissimorum
Germaniae medicorum, familiaries, & in re medica, tam quoad Hermetica & chymica,
quam etiam Galenica principia (Nuremberg, n.d.) [1599] 25 “non proposita illis fuisse
Metalla Naturalia sed magica, vel Mystica, aut hyeroglyphica;” [1607] 79 “Quaerunt
Chymici Spiritualia remedia contra morbos spirituales; sed illa nihilominus sunt cor-
poralia, nec curantur à Spiritibus hyperphysicis.”
117)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 147 [mispaginated as 145] “Hyperphysicomageia
… est cum Angelis bonis ... pia & utilis conversatio.” e term can also be found in
Clemens Timpler, Physicae seu philosophiae naturalis systema methodicum (Hanau,
1605), 27-28 in a discussion of whether the world was made by God physically by
generation or hyperphysically by creation. Timpler’s publisher was Guilielmus Anto-
nius, who printed the expanded edition of Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum in 1609.

book_esm13-1.indb 79 8-11-2007 12:38:37


80 P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81

Contrary, however, to Libavius’s damning depiction of the Paracelsians


in his description of the three medical sects at the beginning of this
article, to the best of my knowledge no follower of Paracelsus
advocates the summoning of devils and Khunrath piously repudiates
necromancy on more than one occasion.118

Conclusion
While it may seem that by 1588, a full decade after Moffet’s initial
troublesome promotion, with such an abundance of Paracelsian
literature available on its doorstep, the Basel medical faculty would
surely have moved with the times and displayed greater tolerance
for Paracelsian theories, it is worth considering that three years later
in 1591, when Johannes Huser is busy publishing Paracelsus’s Opera
(Erster eil, 1589-90), the aged Paracelsian Bernhard Penot (c.1522-
1617), like DuChesne before him in 1573, ended up being promoted
in secret, this time at the house of Felix Platter, having to promise
to continue to zealously read Hippocrates and Galen and not to
speak or write openly against their doctrines.119
Notwithstanding these academic reservations at Basel, it is unde-
niable that some of the faculty’s Paracelsian alumni did particularly
well for themselves: DuChesne served as physician to Henri IV of
France, Croll to Christian I of Anhalt, and Khunrath to Emperor
Rudolf II’s second-in-command, Count Vilém Rožmberk. Libavius,
on the other hand, never gained aristocratic patronage as a chemical
physician. Following his graduation he spent several years as Professor
of History and Poetry at the University of Jena, then worked as
municipal physician, inspector of schools and teacher in Rothenburg,
before living out his final years as rector of the Gymnasium
Casimirianum Academicum until his death in 1616.120 Not that
this deterred him from his voluminous writing on chemical matters

118)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum II, 99, 122.
119)
Burckhardt, Geschichte, 158-159; Hieronymus, eophrast und Galen, 4: 3614.
Khunrath, incidentally, singles out “der gute Penotus“ for praise in both De igne, 113
and Chaos (1708), 281.
120)
Hubicki, Dictionary, 309; Multhauf, “Libavius and Beguin.”

book_esm13-1.indb 80 8-11-2007 12:38:38


P.J. Forshaw / Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008) 53-81 81

and defense of chemical medicine. Despite his dislike of Khunrath’s


interest in magic, we find occasional signs of common ground, such
as his acknowledgement of Khunrath’s practical publication on the
athanor. For those seeking philological evidence of different early
modern formulations of chemistry, it is intriguing to note that both
men distinguish between ‘Alchemia’, derived from παρὰ τὸ χέεσθαι
[para to cheesthai], that is, “to make liquid” and ‘Alchymia’, from
παρὰ του χυμου [para tou chymou], from “juice” or “sweat;” each
respectively employing the former on the title pages of the first
editions of the Amphitheatrum (1595) and Alchemia (1597); each
later opting for the latter in the later editions.121
It may appear obvious that the Paracelsian cause was well under
way by 1609 when, much to Libavius’s chagrin, Johannes Hartmann
(1568-1631), editor of Croll’s Basilica chymica, was appointed the
very first professor of chemiatry, at the University of Marburg. It is
somewhat sobering to discover that as late as 1613 the Basel faculty
passed a decree that public disputants could not insert Paracelsian
doctrines into their theses to be printed and distributed without the
Dean’s consent.122 In this light, Khunrath’s theses defending the
Doctrine of Signatures and his subsequent graduation “with highest
honours” on 3 September 1588 perhaps deserve more recognition
than they have received for their astute negotiation of the boundaries
of institutional tolerance.123

121)
Khunrath, Chaos (1708), 158 “Nonnulli deducunt, παρὰ τὸ χέεσθαι, quod est
Liquo. Et scribunt per e. Alii παρὰ του χυμου, h.e. à Succo vel Sapore, quem arte exu-
gunt Chymici, sicut in Homine ceterisque Animalibus Natura. Et scribunt per y. Hinc
Arabibus ALKYmia.” Cf. Andreas Libavius, Rerum chymicarum epistolica forma ad phi-
losophos et medicos qvosdam in Germania. Vol. 1 (Frankfurt, 1595), 82-84 “De Nota-
tione chymiæ.”
122)
Burckhardt, Geschichte, 160 [June 11, 1613] “statutum, ne Decanus illis, qui pub-
lice disputant, concedat, ut multa vel illa, quae remedia chymica referunt, et eo-
phrasti Paracelsi Doctrinam sapere videntur, esibus inserant, et ne theses, nisi a
Decano subscriptas, imprimantur et distribuantur.”
123)
Die Matrikel der Universität Basel, ed. Hans Georg Wackernagel et al. (Basel,
1956), 2: 361, no. 79; Johann Moller, Cimbria literata (Copenhagen, 1744), 2: 440
“Supremos artis Medicae honores Basileae A. 1588.”

book_esm13-1.indb 81 8-11-2007 12:38:38

Verwandte Interessen