5

Hi Latin Stackexchange

for my masters thesis I am transcribing a 16th century Dutch manuscript about alchemy. On folio 172r there are some Latin words and a Latin sentence.

Can someone help me transcribe that Latin? I struggle a lot with the abbreviations used, and not knowing a single letter Latin does not help either :D

I included a high res picture in this post. The lines in bold are medieval Dutch and seem to read: waent die men oentsijet men geft hen tsijenne [because those those who are spared are given their own], but probably have nothing to do with the Latin.

So far, I found:

  • .T. = haec or her?

  • Habere bona ???

sculpta hac in plumbo ??? in

libra pisces aquarius di**?[r]**et et fortunatem

et ??? eum aspic. amico aspect [u] s

Latin sentence

  • 1
    Some of those seem to be alchemical symbols rather than scholarly abbreviations. For example, the one in the first line looks like ♄, Saturn or lead (plumbo in Latin). And the one in the bottom line is ☾, Luna or silver (argenta). The zodiac symbols were sometimes used to indicate alchemical processes, but this was less standardized. – Draconis Oct 12 '20 at 15:20
  • Thank you, @Draconis, for finding out those are alchemical processes! – LooselySubtle Oct 12 '20 at 16:11
7

As stated in the comment by @Draconis, the "h"- and "C"-like glyphs appear to be the planetary symbols ♄ and ☾. Since plumbo is spelled out in the text, it appears that these are used to denote the planets Saturnus and Luna rather than the corresponding metals plumbum and argentum. With this, I read

Habere bona [Satur]ni

sculpa haec in plumbo, [Satur]no in
[libra], [piscibus], [aquario], Direct[o] et fortunat[o]
et [Lun]a eum aspic[iente] amico aspectu.

which I'd tentatively translate as

To have the goods of Saturn

engrave this [magic square] in lead, with Saturn in Libra, Pisces or Aquarius, direct [i.e. not retrograde] and fortunate, and the Moon in a friendly aspect with him

So this seems to be a set of instructions for the creation of an amulet intended to obtain "the goods of Saturn" (likely wealth), which is to be fashioned from lead (the metal associated with Saturn) under a specific set of astrological conditions (Saturn in certain signs, not retrograde, and the angle between the Moon and Saturn being one of those deemed auspicious in astrology).

  • Most impressive, @gmvh and @Draconis! Even if I knew the planetary symbols, I still would not have found this solution on my own! Where do you get you information that Saturnus = plumbum and Luna = argentum? – LooselySubtle Oct 12 '20 at 16:05
  • @LooselySubtle That's just the general alchemical lore (Sol=aurum, Luna=argentum, Mercurius=Mercurium/Hydrargium [quicksilver], Venus=cuprum, Mars=ferrum, Iupiter=stannum, Saturnus=plumbum). Some of these are obvious notions (Sol, Luna), some are mythologically sensible (cuprum for Kypris, ferrum for war), others are a stretch (Mercury is "quick", Saturn is dim) or make no sense (at least I could never figure out a reason for Iupiter to be associated with tin). – gmvh Oct 12 '20 at 16:12
  • As far as I remember the plants-metals association was pretty consistent across time and places. With the exception of Mercury, that was in the past associated with electrum by the Greeks. – d_e Oct 12 '20 at 16:23
  • @gmvh My best explanation for that last one is "there are seven basic metals and seven planets, and we don't have anything better for tin". – Draconis Oct 12 '20 at 16:23
  • @Draconis yeah, that's pretty much the only explanation. – gmvh Oct 12 '20 at 16:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.