Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.16

Liber de impressionibus imaginum, anullorum 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. Its origin is unknown. All four manuscripts date from the sixteenth century and the text is first attested 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) and anonymous in five other manuscripts (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, Ratsschulbibl., I.XII.2, s. XV, f. 9v-13r). The text also seems to be related to the Liber imaginum signorum attributed to Hermes and Enoch (on which see P. Lucentini, V. Perrone Compagni, I testi e i codici di Ermete nel Medioevo, Florence, 2001, 52-53, no. 18).


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


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.




Ghent, UB, 1021A, s. XVI, f. 32r-37v

Paris, BnF, lat. 5934, s. XVI, f. 80r-85vImages

St Petersburg, BAN, Q. 537, s. XVI, f. 120r-127v

ZZ – Unknown location, Conte de Sarzana, no shelfmark, s. XVI, pp. 31-43