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Magical Instruments

(2,932 words)

Author(s): Vescovini, Graziella Federici
There is little evidence of magical instruments from the Middle Ages, owing to the prohibitions by the doctrinal authorities of those centuries. The testimonies are indirect and derive from works of Greco-Roman paganism and medieval Arab culture that passed sporadically into medieval Latin literature. Thus the available sources are preponderantly classical and Renaissance; in the Middle Ages they were obscured, known only through citations of forbidden texts. They re-emerged in the Renaissance when the most important manual of medieval magic, Picatrix, hitherto almost unkno…

Michael Scot

(1,234 words)

Author(s): Vescovini, Graziella Federici
Scot, Michael, * before 1198 (place unknown), † after 1236 (place unknown) An eminent astrologer, Michael Scot's activity is documented from 1198 to 1216, and from 1221 to 1224, years in which he was translating the various books of Aristotle's De animalibus and perhaps De anima and other works of the philosopher. In 1224 Pope Honorius III elected him Archbishop of Cashel in Ireland, but he declined the position. He was definitely active at the court of Frederick II from 1227 to 1236. Michael Scot is known as the translator of works by Arab scientists, including Alfarabi's De ortu scientiar…

Peter of Abano

(2,764 words)

Author(s): Vescovini, Graziella Federici
Peter of Abano (Pietro de Sclavione), * ca. 1250 (Padua), † after 1315 (place unknown) Pietro de Sclavione, son of Costanzo de Sclavione, Notary of the Seal of the Commune of Padua, was born circa 1250. Nothing of him is known after 1315. His fame as a physician and astrologer alternates between fact and legend. The legendary part is due to authors of the 15th-17th century (→ Agrippa, → Trithemius, Gianfrancesco Pico, → Symphorien Champier, and others), who created a false image of him as a magus and necromanc…