Liber XXIV philosophorum

Latin after CDLXXVI
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mosburgo
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Liber XXIV philosophorum

Post by mosburgo » Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:02 pm

Hello everyone.

I am working on the so-called Liber XXIV philosophorum, a pseudo-hermetic treatise. Most scholars think it was written in the XIIth. century, but its last editor (Hudry) thinks it is a latin translation/adaptation from many pagan sources done by Marius Victorinus in 4th. century. (I think it was written in the XIIth. century.)

Basically, the text presents 24 definitions of God. And the first is this:

DEUS EST MONAS MONADEM GIGNENS IN SE UNUM REFLECTENS ARDOREM.

Markus Vinzent offers this English version:

GOD IS A MONADE THAT BRINGS FORTH A MONADE BY REFLECTING IN HIMSELF AS A FLAME.

I think the „unum“ should be something like „just one flame“, but I would like to hear your thoughts on two issues:

1) “In se” could be related at the same time both to “reflectens” and to “gignens”?
2) “Reflectens”. Most translations render it as “reflecting”. But why not “bending back” or “returning”? When “flecto”/”reflecto” started having the (optic) idea of reflection? I don’t know if this English Word could also mean the action of bending or folding back. But the Italian translation by Lucentini also has the (optic) idea of reflection:
DIO È UNA MONADE CHE GENERA UNA MONADE E IN SÉ RIFLETTE UN SOLO FUOCO D'AMORE.


Thank you!

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Liber XXIV philosophorum

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:53 pm

Well, note that the English and the Italian translations do not say the same thing... The English translation you cite does seem to ignore unum altogether, which clearly modifies ardorem. The Italian translation is more entertaining, seemingly seeing a double entendre in the Latin ardor.

1) I think in se has to be complementary to reflectens.
2) I have no idea.

In English usage, BTW, "monad" does not have a final 'e.'
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

mosburgo
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Re: Liber XXIV philosophorum

Post by mosburgo » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:45 pm

Thank you!

mwh
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Re: Liber XXIV philosophorum

Post by mwh » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:28 pm

Welcome mosburgo. This is intriguing.

First, why 24? Does this reflect the theological significance of alpha&omega, as in Revelation? The Greek alphabet has 24 letters. (The two Homeric epics were each split into sections labelled alpha through omega.) That would confirm Greek origin for this little collection, as well as implying that the answers are collectively all-comprehensive?

I don’t know what Vinzent’s “BY REFLECTING IN HIMSELF AS A FLAME” is meant to mean, or how he arrives at it. But the Italian translation isn't quite satisfactory either; it turns it into two propositions instead of one.

To your questions:
in se: if with gignens, se is ablative (and in unusual position), "generating within itself"; if with reflectens, it’s accusative. Could it really be both at once? I’d take it as going exclusively with reflectens. In Greek there’d be no possible ambivalence.
reflectens: Isn’t reflecting the same as bending back? This is physics, after all.

This definition—the first!—seems exceptionally difficult to understand (unlike the better-known second). A monad that generates a monad is in itself paradoxical if not self-contradictory. But if it reflects a single “ardor” back onto itself (which is reflected back in turn, like facing mirrors?), could that be meant as a way of resolving the problem? (A kind of two-in-one?—binitarianistic?)

I write in ignorance of the scholarship on all this, but from your post it doesn't seem that the questions have been settled.

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Re: Liber XXIV philosophorum

Post by Andriko » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:41 pm

@mwh,

I can't respond to the Latin, because I am ignorant of it.

However, I am interested in things such as Hermeticism, and so am happy to share my ignorance.

Hermeticists believed (so I have gathered), amongst many things, that God, like Narcissus, looked down from the eternal into the material and saw his reflection, and became fascinated by it and so went to meet it and instead fell in and became trapped (which I suspect would also account for any double entendres involving 'amore' and 'Adore').

As for reflecting, The One contemplate's itself and from this contemplation everything else becomes differentiated. It most certainly isn't physics! From my own research, the paradoxes and double meanings lie at the heart of these sorts of writings (a good reason to learn Greek and Latin to read them properly).

I would hazard a guess that '24' is symbolic of the 24 hours of the day, thus symbolic of time, and so maybe the Ouroborus, or some such thing.

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Re: Liber XXIV philosophorum

Post by mwh » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:43 pm

Thanks Andriko, that’s very interesting, and perhaps it would be helpful to mosburgo, but he seems to have dropped out.

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