Hermeticism and Alchemy. The Case of Ludovico Lazzarelli.pdf

Hermeticism and Alchemy: The Case of Ludovico Lazzarelli Author(s): Chiara Crisciani Source: Early Science and Medicine, Vol. 5, No. 2, Alchemy and Hermeticism (2000), pp. 145- 159 Published by: BRILL Stable URL: Accessed: 26/09/2008 14:59 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, th
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  Hermeticism and Alchemy: The Case of Ludovico LazzarelliAuthor(s): Chiara CriscianiSource: Early Science and Medicine, Vol. 5, No. 2, Alchemy and Hermeticism (2000), pp. 145-159Published by: BRILLStable URL: Accessed: 26/09/2008 14:59 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  BRILL  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  Early Science and Medicine.  HERMETICISM AND ALCHEMY: THE CASE OF LUDOVICO LAZZARELLI CHIARA CRISCIANI Department of Philosophy, University of Pavia 1. There are various kinds of documentation regarding the al- chemical interests of Ludovico Lazzarelli (1450-1500).' We have no statements of his as to his actual working commitments; however, Lazzarelli himself declares that he had been the disciple of a mas- ter alchemist, namely the Burgundian John Rigaud de Branchis, who was certainly practicing in Siena in 1494. Moreover, in some texts, Lazzarelli was surely connected with alchemy in a number of ways. Up to now I have identified three such texts: 1) The tran- scription of the Pretiosa Margarita Novella of Petrus Bonus, with a dedicatory verse written by Lazzarelli,2 in which the latter offers Petrus' text to John Rigaud and fervently praises both the author ('nomine reque bonus,' the pride of 'inclita Ferraria') and the 1 On Lazzarelli see, in addition to the more remote studies by V.K. Ohly and V.B. McDaniel, P.O. Kristeller, Marsilio Ficino e Lodovico Lazzarelli. Contributo alla diffusione delle idee ermetiche nel Rinascimento ; d., Ancora per Giovanni Mercurio da Correggio, in id., Studies on Renaissance Thought and Letters (Rome, 1956), 221-257; id., Lodovico Lazzarelli e Giovanni da Correggio, due ermetici del Quattrocento, e il manoscritto II.D.I.4 della Biblioteca Comunale degli Ar- denti di Viterbo, in A. Pepponi, ed., Biblioteca degli Ardenti della cittda di Viterbo. Studi e ricerche nel 150 della fondazione (Viterbo, 1960), 15-37; F.A Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (London, 1964), passim; D.P.Walker, Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella (London, 1958), 60-72; E. Garin, M. Brini, C. Vasoli, P. Zambelli, eds., Testi umanistici u l'Ermetismo Rome, 1955); D.B. Ru- derman, Giovanni Mercurio da Correggio's Appearance in Italy as Seen through the Eyes of an Italian Jew, n Renaissance Quarterly, 8.3 (1975), 309-322; S. Sosti, Il 'Crater Hermetis' di Ludovico Lazzarelli, in Quaderni dell'Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento meridionale, 1 (1984), 101-132; C. Moreschini, Dall' 'Asclepio' al 'Crater Hermetis' Studi sull'ermetismo tardo antico e rinascimentale (Pisa, 1985); M. Idel, Hermeticism and Judaism, n I. Merkel and A.G. Debus, eds., Hermeticism and the Renaissance (Washington, 1988), 68-70; E. Garin, Ermetismo del Rinascimento (Rome, 1988); F. Bacchelli, Giovanni Pico e Pierleone da Spoleto. Nuovi frammenti del 'Commento sopra una canzona de amore' (Florence, 2000). 2 Modena, Biblioteca Estense, ms lat. 299 (the dedicatory verse has been ed- ited in Kristeller, Ancora per, 257). On Petrus Bonus see C. Vasoli, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Rome, 1970), 1:287-289; C. Crisciani, ed., Pietro Bono da Ferrara, Preziosa Margarita Novella. Edizione del volgarizzamento (Florence, 1976), Introduction; ead., The Conception of Alchemy as Expressed in the 'Pretiosa Margarita Novella' of Petrus Bonus of Ferrara, n Ambix, 20 (1973), 165-181. ? Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2000 Early Science and Medicine 5, 2  146 CHIARA CRISCIANI recipient. 2) A collection of alchemical texts,3 known as the Vademecum. These texts are all of a practical and Lullian tone. In- deed, the first treatise, which is srcinal and anonymous, is defined as 'ex intentione Raymundi'; one text, the De investigatione lapidis, is part of the pseudo-Lullian corpus;4 there follow 'excerpta ex libris Raymundi' (in Latin and in the vernacular) and various prac- tical Tabule; finally it contains the procedure to obtain the 'arcanum elexiris de inventione magistri Joannis Rigaudi de Branchis', which he had made in Siena in 1494 'in societate magistri Alberti perusini phisici.' 3) The dedicatory verse and the prologue, both definitely written by Lazzarelli, which preface this collection. The first few lines wish well to the liber collega arcani laboris, fidus perpetuusque comes. 6 The collection that follows thus seems to be a true guide that aims at involving Lazzarelli in practical knowledge and works. Moreover, it is right in this pro- logue that Lazzarelli delineates a magistral genealogy in which he presents himself, disciple of John Rigaud that he is, as the heir to a line that goes back to Lull, and thence to Arnold, who had, in turn, learned a quodam magistro Petro. The alchemical books that Lazzarelli surely had at his disposal comprised an extensive and systematic doctrinal text, the Pretiosa Margarita, and some short operative writings that refer to 'Lull.' 3 Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, ms 984; the edition of both the opening verses and the prologue can be found in M. Brini, Ludovico Lazzarelli. Testi scelti , in E. Garin et al., Testi umanistici, 75-77; cf. also Chantilly, Musec Conde, ms 419 (919): this manuscript contains texts in the Italian vernacular and, in particular, the prologue to the Vademecum, he first treatise, the Secretum ritten by John Rigaud de Branchis. 4 M. Pereira, The Alchemical Corpus Attributed o Raymond Lull (London, 1989), 85. 5 Created in 1495, this collection seems to be one of the results of the Lazza- relli's editing activities: ee also his 'Hermetic' collection with three introductions for Giovanni Mercurio (Kristeller, Marsilio Ficino , Appendix with the edition of the introductions). The opening Tabula (ed. Brini, Testi , 76-77), written subsequently, attributes the first treatise in the collection to Lazzarelli (Tractatus de alchimia), but he actually wrote only the prologue and collected and edited the works. The collection is not explicitly dedicated to John Rigaud, but it is explic- itly linked to his teaching, as can be inferred from the genealogy presented in the prologue (ed. Brini, 76); moreover, in the text on the preparation of the elixir by John Rigaud (f.33v), it is declared that hoc arcanum ipse magister Joanes mihi ex maxima sui liberalitate ore proprio revelavit ; f. L. Thorndike, History of Magic and Experimental cience New York, 1923-1950), 5:533-34; 6:437- 38. 6 Brini, Testi , 75.  THE CASE OF LUDOVICO LAZZARELLI 147 There is nothing surprising in this modest but well-balanced rep- ertoire. Indeed, during the Quattrocento, there was a general ac- ceptance of the two-fold tradition that derived from 'Geber' (in- deed Bonus, on several occasions, declares-truthfully-that he owes much to Geber) and from 'Lull'. So Lazzarelli is fully in line with choices that, in the Quattrocento, were widespread and con- solidated. The two traditions were often interwoven and under- stood to be complementary.7 However, the textual choices made by Lazzarelli deserve some further consideration. Bonus' treatise does not confine itself to reformulating 'Geber s conceptions. Its importance lies (then and subsequently) not only in its thorough definition of the relation- ship between alchemy and natural philosophy in an Aristotelian and scholastic context, but also in Bonus' thorough treatment of other issues that may have held a more specific interest for Lazzarelli: the underlying reasons for the concealing language of alchemists and its forms; the initiatory feature of the transmission of alchemical knowledge; and, above all, the 'partim divina' struc- ture of alchemy in general and of the lapis in particular, which was also interpreted as a miracle and a 'donum Dei.' Bonus' consid- erations on the poets who made reference to the alchemical opus in their poems and myths, on the prophets who speak mistice also on the subject of alchemy, on the ancient alchemists (in the first place Hermes) who, as witnesses of the marvellous alchemical transformations and the extraordinary nature of the lapis/miracle, were necessarily also prophets of Christian events and truths,s--all of these are themes that Lazzarelli must have particularly appreci- ated. Indeed, his main interest seems from quite early on to have been directed towards the topic of transformation, in whatever way it was approached. In fact, already in his youth (long before his 'conversion to Hermeticism' which followed his meeting with Giovanni 'Mercurio' da Correggio in 1484)', he wrote the short 7 C. Crisciani and M. Pereira, L'alchimia nella transizione fra Medioevo e Rinascimento, in Storia della scienza Treccani (Rome, forthcoming), IV, part C, chp.13.1. 8 For these themes see Petrus Bonus, Pretiosa Margarita Novella (ed. J.J. Manget, Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa, (Geneva, 1702), 2:1-80), 29-31, 50-54. 9 Lazzarelli describes the Hermetic appearance of Giovanni Mercurio and his own reactions to it in the Epistola Enoch (ed. Brini, Testi , 34-50); cf. also Kristeller, Ancora per , 256, for the incunabulum and another manuscript of the text; cf. Rudeman, Giovanni Mercurio.
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