Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.16

Liber de impressionibus imaginum, anulorum et sigillorum secundum facies duodecim signorum zodiaci

A text on the making of talismans according to the position of the Sun in the twelve signs and various other astrological configurations, including the systematic use of the decans. All four manuscripts date from the sixteenth century and the text is attested, with attribution to Ptolemy, in Johannes Trithemius’s Antipalus maleficiorum (1508), I.3, no. 65: ‘Item est liber Ptholemaei de componendis imaginibus, annulis atque sigillis duodecim signorum, qui sic incipit: Incipiamus tractare de compositione’ (ed. J.-P. Boudet, Entre science et nigromance. Astrologie, divination et magie dans l’Occident médiéval (XIIe-XVe siècle), Paris, 2006, 551). This text appears to be a slightly revised version of another text, which is attributed to Arnold of Villanova in MS Boncompagni 506, s. XIV, f. 78r-81r (‘Incipit liber faciendi sigilla sive impressiones secundum Arnaldum de Villanova. Incipiamus cum Dei auxilio de hiis tractare que fieri possunt Sole existente — et mirabiliter eficax in efectu. Deo gratias. Expliciunt modi faciendi sigilla’; on this manuscript, whose present location is unknown, see E. Narducci, Catalogo di manoscritti ora posseduti da D. Baldassarre Boncompagni, Roma, 1892, 292-293), to Bernard of Gordon in MSS Vienna, ÖNB, 3162, s. XV, f. 239r-241r and Wiesbaden, HLB, 79, f. 54v-56rb (‘Incipit tractatus magistri Bernhardi de Gordonio de hiis que fieri possunt Sole existente in quolibet signo et faciebus cuiuslibet signi secundum quantitatem et effectus eius in istis inferioribus et de sigillis sive ymaginibus contra omnes egritudines faciendis servatis tamen condictionibus que dicentur. Aries est signum femineum, igneum, dorsum membris, fit enim sine lingua, habens sub quolibet pede columpnam — efficax in effectum. Finit tractatus de ymaginibus signorum magistri Bernhardi de Gordonio’), and anonymous in six other manuscripts (London, BL, Sloane 332, f. 6r-7v; Naples, BN, VIII C 45, s. XV, f. 105v-111r; Prague, NKCR, adlig. 14.H.208 (2764), s. XVI, f. 1r-3r; Vienna, ÖNB, 5239*, s. XIV, f. 3r-5v; Vienna, ÖNB, 5311, s. XIV, f. 137va-138va; and Zwickau, Ratsschulbibliothek, 1.12.2, s. XV, f. 9v-13r). The text just mentioned is in turn an expanded version, or an alternative translation, of the Liber imaginum signorum attributed to Hermes and Enoch, which is preserved in numerous manuscripts from the fourteenth century onwards (see P. Lucentini, V. Perrone Compagni, I testi e i codici di Ermete nel Medioevo, Florence, 2001, 52-53, no. 18) and which first appears in Picatrix II.12 (ed. D. Pingree, Picatrix. The Latin Version of the Ghāyat Al-Ḥakīm, London, 1986, 82-85).

Text ‘(Paris, BnF, lat. 5934) Incipit liber Ptolomei de impressionibus imaginum, anullorum et sigillorum secundum facies duodecim signorum zodiaci. [preface] Incipiamus tractare de compositionne et impressione imaginum, sigillorum et anullorum que possunt fieri Sole existente in quolibet signo secundum gradus et facies singulas… [1] Cum Sol est in Ariete. Aries est signum igneum, incisum membris, sine lingua, habens sub quolibet pede duodecim lumina ex auro, argento et ferro qua substinetur in sanitate — [12] (in Piscibus) et mitigare crudelitatem. Et est operatio eius in magnis deffectibus valde mirabilis. Finis libri Ptolomei de sigillis et impressionibus imaginum secundum duodecim signa.’

Bibl. C. Burnett, ‘The Conte de Sarzana Magical Manuscript’, in C. Burnett, Magic and Divination in the Middle Ages. Texts and Techniques in the Islamic and Christian Worlds, Farnham-Burlington, 1996, IX, 3; J.-P. Boudet, ‘The Transmission of Arabic Magic in Europe (Middle Ages – Renaissance)’, Micrologus 28 (2020), 143-165: 152 n. 30; G. Bohak, C. Burnett, Thābit ibn Qurra On Talismans and Ps.-Ptolemy On Images 1-9, Together with the Liber prestigiorum Thebidis of Adelard of Bath, Firenze, 2021, 33 n. 58.

Modern ed. ---