Thursday, October 29, 2009

Occult Philosophy: Happy Halloween!

The figure of a nude man with his limbs positioned to overlap an enclosed pentagram. Various planetary signs a placed on the image.Published as a single volume in 1533, these three books, collectively known as De occulta philosophia libri tres (Köln: Soter, 1533), are the fruits of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's study of occult philosophy.  Written over a period of at least twenty years,  they outline Agrippa's thoughts on the theory, practice and history of ritual magic and it's relation to religion, medicine and other disciplines.  This volume was published without any indication of a printer's name or a place of publication as it had initially been denounced as heretical.

Shown here is one of several figures from book two which illustrates Agrippa's discussion of the perfection of man.  In a sequence of images he describes how man's physical form relates to perfect geometric shapes, significant numbers, astrological signs, stars and divine names.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brut Chronicle Online

A color scan of a page from the Brut chronicle, including two decorative initials in red and blue.

We are happy to announce that Dartmouth's Brut Chronicle is now available online in two formats (one for easy browsing and one for closer inspection). The Brut Chronicle was composed in Anglo-Norman sometime after 1272, then extended to 1333, and, finally, in about 1400, translated into English. The Dartmouth copy includes second continuation, believed to have been written around 1430, that extends the account from 1377 to 1419.

The Brut is a fascinating history of Britain starting with the exile of Brutus and his subsequent conquering of Albion. It establishes the lineage of the kings and includes historical information now considered factual alongside the legendary tales of Merlin and King Arthur.