Atlantis Online
December 06, 2019, 07:10:53 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Were seafarers living here 16,000 years ago?
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=34805893-6a53-46f5-a864-a96d53991051&k=39922
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

ISLAMIC Alchemy

Pages: [1] 2   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: ISLAMIC Alchemy  (Read 6497 times)
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« on: August 10, 2007, 03:09:07 pm »








                                              I S L A M I C   A L C H E M Y





Islamic alchemy evolved rapidly with the mingling of cultures and the Near East began absorbing Greek knowledge. Philosophers already in the region lacked sufficient knowledge to meet their needs. This assumption of knowledge was even more rapid during the fifth century BCE when the learned sect of Nestorian Christians were expelled from Constantinople and set up a school at Edessa in northern Syria. Then being expelled again by the Greek Emperor they fled into Mesopotamia finally around 500 established the famous Persian medical school at Jundai-Shapur. They had started translating Greeks works into Syriac and were followed in the nest century by the Monophysite Christians, also expelled, who continued translating Greek texts.

However, during the fifth and sixth centuries this rapid growth of knowledge was slowed when the Arab states and tribes came under Muslim influence. Islamic leaders imposed the religion on every region they conquered including Asia Minor, Syria, Persia, Egypt, Africa, and Spain. This hostility toward infidel learning continued till after 750 when under Abbasid culiphs of Baghdad the people developed a thirst for knowledge again. The Abbsaids also sought philosophies that would eliminate the need of imams thus Greek works of philosophy, mathematics, science could not be translated fast enough.

When trying to determine the author of ancient treaties on most subjects including alchemy a dubious phenomenon occurs, the author usually remains a mystery. This is because everyone signed a well-known name to their work to give it more authenticity. This would be like someone today signing their work as Roger Bacon, William Shakespeare, or William Faulkner. This was why work may be attributed to men that never wrote it.

One of the first named recognized in Islamic alchemy is Abu Musa Jabir, born Hayyan and supposedly a pupil of the sixth Imam-Islamic spiritual and secular leader-Ja'far b. Muhammad al-Sadiq, who is reported to have numerous treatises, mostly on alchemy but also on medicine, astronomy, astrology, mathematics, music, and philosophy, all subjects would constitute an encyclopedia. Although it is thought that Ja'far wrote many treatises accredited to him, it is doubtful, if not impossible, that he alone wrote on all of these subjects, mostly likely others did under his name; remember there were no copyright laws then. And, some of what was considered science then would currently be called magic because in that era there was little difference between science and magic.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2007, 03:12:06 pm »








What is known for certain from assaying the alchemical work attributed to Jabir is that he or who ever wrote it was familiar with Greek alchemy theory. He divided substances into three categories:

Spirits: volatile bodies such as camphor, sal ammoniac, mercury, arsenic, and sulphur.
Metallic bodies: the metals.
Bodies: non-volatile, pulverizable solids such as substances other than "spirits" or metallic bodies.

As can be seen, this resembles the Greek classification. The Greeks believed metals were comprised of a body, soul, and spirit. In fact, Jabir's categories could have came straight from Aristotle whose "moist" and "dry" vapors now become vapors of mercury and sulphur.

Like the Greeks, Jabir spoke of different sulphurs, at the time sulphur was thought to be a fusible, volatile, combustible body, such as yellow sulphur, white sulphur, green sulphur, black sulphur, and so on. But the sulphur referred to in modern chemistry also was known. Jabir's varieties of sulpurs might have been compounds containing sulphur, which some miners call iron pyrites. The notion that metals contained mercury and sulphur-the latter being an inflammable principle (before oxygen was discovered)-remained a part of alchemy and chemistry even into the 18th century. The idea that this inflammable principle-sulphur-was in metals, if not all bodies, was the progenitor of the notion of phlogiston.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2007, 03:13:24 pm »








Jabir shared Aristotle's conception of the four elements, fire, air, water, earth, but developed it along different lines. He states the first essence or natures of the four elementary qualities were hotness, coldness, dryness, and moistness. When these natures unite with the substance they form a compound of the first degree namely hot, cold, dry, moist. The union of two compounds produces an element: fire (hot + dry + substance); air (hot + moist + substance); water (cold + moist + substance); and earth (cold + dry + substance). He said all metals had two external natures and two internal. The diagram below shows how he viewed gold and silver:


 
 Outer Qualities
 Inner Qualities

 GOLD
 Hot--moist
 Cold--dry

 SILVER
 Cold--dry
Hot--moist


As shown, in order to change silver into gold its nature, quality composition, had to be reversed. This reversal of qualities, according to Jabir, was necessary for transmutation to occur. The idea of altering metallic qualities did not seem impossible at the time for the concept was widely accepted in medicine.

It can be seen the Islamic alchemists, like their Greek counterparts, were barrowing the ancient Greek physician Galen's methods. For example, if a patient suffered a disease in which he had too much heat element, he would be given, as a remedy, medicine containing a cold element.

Jabir and follow Arabian alchemists viewed base metals similarly as Galen and his followers had viewed patients, imperfect. Base metals were considered imperfect, being defective in purity, and particularly in proportion, that is not being naturally balanced. This resulted in the formation of silver, lead, tin, or copper. But, it was reasoned, since the base metals were of the same composition as gold, though not as equally proportioned, they could be perfected by equally proportioning them. Jabir sought to do this by elixirs and hoped to develop the supreme elixir.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2007, 03:15:01 pm »








He invented his method of balance to proportionally balance the metallic qualities which contained a strange numbering system. The Greeks denoted the variation of qualities, hotness and coldness, moistness and dryness, by degrees though they lacked the means to measure them quantitatively. Jabir elaborated on the Greek system by assigning a "value" to each substance. For example, if gold was 1, then the elixir was 5. Each treatment was noted by a special fraction; a sublimation equaled 1/50, a fusion, 1/200, thus the formula read:

(Gold) 1 X (Fusion) 1/200 X 1000 = (Elixir) 5
(Computerized as [1 * .005 * 1000 = 5])

The conclusion was that after one thousand fusions gold should be converted into an elixir. The conclusion of this method of balance (mizan) proved to be very doubtful, to say the least, but it was a first step toward quantitative measurement which became so important in chemistry.

It might be added that some experiments attributed to Jabir seemed very dubious too. For example, in one, he wanted to remove moisture from water. After distilling and redistilling ordinary water 700 times he got white, brilliant solidifies like salt which he said was the pure element, but is simply the quality of coldness residing in first matter. Like processes applied to other distilled products supposedly rendered the warm, the moist, and the dry elements. Were these experiments ever verified? There is a great deal of uncertainty about their verification; on the other hand, there seems to be more certainty that they were not, who is going to redistill water, or any other product, 700 times again? Another explanation, perhaps a more plausible one, for the lack of validity is that during retesting some accident occurred; a cracked still, a furnace collapse or some other incident stopped the procedure.

Even through none of his alchemical works have been translated directly from Arabic, but summaries of them indicated Rhases, or Razi, was a practical scientist. Although he did not go along with Jabir's elaborate calculated "balance" theory, Rhases believed basically that all substances were composed of the four elements and transmutation was possible. He also shared Jabir's assumption that the proximate constituents of metals were mercury and sulphur (or an inflammable oil), but sometimes suggests a third constituent of a salty nature--an idea occurring most frequently in later alchemical literature.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2007, 03:18:23 pm »








In his Book of the Secret of Secrets he divides chemical substances into well-marked classes: "spirits," metallic bodies, stones, vitriols, boraxes, and salts. He further describes necessary equipment needed, the various chemical preparation including various "poisonous" waters, the processes of calcination, sublimation, dissolution, and combustion; and finally in obscure terms the production of elixirs of gold and silver. Although his book is not always clearly understood, it is free of deliberate concealments, allegory and rhetoric as in many texts of the era.

A survey of Rhases' work indicates that he was much more interested in practical chemistry than theoretical alchemy and probably this why his Book of the Secret of Secrets foreshadowed the chemistry laboratory manual. Although the procedures describe in it are frequently difficult to interpret they indicate experiments that he probably undertook himself. He in turn begun to revolutionize alchemical thinking in that he demonstrated that practice was better than just unsupported hypotheses; it was better to composed treatises with workable laboratory experiments than untried studies.

Rhases initially gave a systematic classification of alchemical substances. For the first time substances were divided into the categories of animal, vegetable, and mineral.

Another noted chemist is Abu'l-Qasim al'Iraqi, probably in the 13th century wrote a work called Knowledge Acquired Concerning the Cultivation of Gold, English translation by E. J. Holmyard. His alchemical theory is similar to Jabir's. He accepted the Aristotelian theory for the origin of metals and believed the various metals were imperfection of gold, and their properties could be changed with red and white elixir in order to transform them into gold or silver.

As proof for this transformation he cited the then known fact that lead heat for a long time in a fire yields small amounts of silver. Unknown to the Arabians then was that small amounts of silver compounds are present in all lead ore. Once again this illustrates alchemists could only work with knowledge which they had at the time.

Al-Iraqi's theory was excellent, but when it came to instructions as to actually performing experiments he reverted to dark sayings, allegories, and quotations of alchemical sages. This indicated al-Iraqi had little or no practical experience.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2007, 03:20:26 pm »

                       



                                                       A V I C E N N A




Abu Ali ibn Sina, known in Europe as Avicenna, was an Islamic genius referred to as the "Prince of Physicians." he was a boy prodigy: he needed advanced tuition after being taught the Koran and Arabian poetry; then he mastered arithmetic, Euclid and logic, and medicine was among the other subjects he privately applied himself to and by the age of sixteen he was teaching physicians new forms of treatments.

He advanced to hold high medical and government positions, on one occasion being grand vizier and prime minister. He wrote over one hundred books, some being quite short, one medicine, philosophy, and science; his famous "Canon of Medicine" contained over a million words; in the pharmacological section he mentioned no fewer than 760 drugs. For several hundred years he shared with Rhases the distinction of being an authority in medicine, a subject for which there was no appeal.

Another interest which he shared with Rhases was music. One might wonder how an acute such as Avicenna's could be interested in alchemy. A plausible answer is that his contemporaries believed it was possible to transmute metals, and many held it had successfully been accomplished while a few believing it to be theoretically possible were skeptical. Avicenna's views on the constitution of metals closely resemble Jabir's. However, Avicenna was no skeptic for he clearly stated that the concept of transmutation was impossible. He saw no way to split up one metallic combination to make another. His negative opinions did not go unanswered. Vizier Al-Tughra'i, a better poet than alchemist, answered his criticism after carefully studying it and pointed out Avicenna's views were inconsistent with those he had expressed elsewhere in the same work. Avicenna's negative views, however, did little to detour those interested in alchemy, they just continued their work.

The Islamic alchemists took what the knowledge inherited from the Greeks, added to it, and passed it onto their Western counterparts. But not all of this knowledge strictly concerned alchemy. A bit of knowledge of this type is The Emerald Tablet or the Tabula Smaragdina, which is ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, or the Egyptian god Thoth, god of mathematics and science. Early versions were dogmatic to Arabic alchemy since they claim to express the summary of the principle changes in Nature and therefore serve as the basis of the alchemical doctrine
« Last Edit: August 10, 2007, 03:27:55 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2007, 03:21:43 pm »







Another interest which he shared with Rhases was music. One might wonder how an acute such as Avicenna's could be interested in alchemy. A plausible answer is that his contemporaries believed it was possible to transmute metals, and many held it had successfully been accomplished while a few believing it to be theoretically possible were skeptical. Avicenna's views on the constitution of metals closely resemble Jabir's. However, Avicenna was no skeptic for he clearly stated that the concept of transmutation was impossible. He saw no way to split up one metallic combination to make another. His negative opinions did not go unanswered. Vizier Al-Tughra'i, a better poet than alchemist, answered his criticism after carefully studying it and pointed out Avicenna's views were inconsistent with those he had expressed elsewhere in the same work. Avicenna's negative views, however, did little to detour those interested in alchemy, they just continued their work.

The Islamic alchemists took what the knowledge inherited from the Greeks, added to it, and passed it onto their Western counterparts. But not all of this knowledge strictly concerned alchemy. A bit of knowledge of this type is The Emerald Tablet or the Tabula Smaragdina, which is ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, or the Egyptian god Thoth, god of mathematics and science. Early versions were dogmatic to Arabic alchemy since they claim to express the summary of the principle changes in Nature and therefore serve as the basis of the alchemical doctrine.

Another notable Islamic alchemist was Geber, famous Prince and Philosopher, or at least a number of treatises attributed to him, the most important Summa Perfectionis. This work was the most important source of medieval chemistry. A survey of these treatises, especially this one, shows the author, or authors, were true believers that transmutation of metals was possible. The most important points in these works are the advocacy of the sulphur-mercury of metals, the initial descriptions of chemical methods, and the initial descriptions of analysis, the stating of numerous of ways of testing metals to tell whether they were genuine gold. The work also gave the vital knowledge of mineral acids to the Western world. The descriptions and recipes were clearly stated free of allegories as were the diagrams also provided. But, this textbook material did not enable the reader to make gold.

Beginning with the 12th through the 16th centuries the Arabs were clearly adding there own knowledge to that which they adopted from the Greeks and were far in advance of the Western counterparts. They knew the preparation of sal ammoniac, ammonia, the mineral acids, and borax. They were familiar with the method of distillation and other chemical operations. They were making certain chemical preparations while the idea of transmutation by a medicine or stone and the lore of the four elements still awaited their Western neighbors. A.G.H.




Sources:
Holmyard, E.J. "Islamic Alchemy" Alchemy. New York. Dower Publications. 1990. pp. 80-104
Taylor, F. Sherwood. "Alchemists of Islam" Alchemists, Founders of Modern Chemistry. Kessinger Publishing

http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/~alchemy/islamic_alchemy.html
« Last Edit: August 10, 2007, 03:22:31 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2007, 09:29:08 am »








                                      A L C H E M Y   I N   I S L A M I C   T I M E S





These pages are edited by Prof. Hamed Abdel-reheem Ead

Professor of Chemistry at Faculty of Science-University of Cairo Giza-Egypt and director of Science Heritage Center



E-mail: profhamedead@yahoo.com

Web site: http://www.frcu.eun.eg/www/universities/html/shc/index.htm


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------








                                                        INTRODUCTION





On 8 June, A.D. 632, the Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Prayers be upon Him) died, having accomplished the marvelous task of uniting the tribes of Arabia into a homogeneous and powerful nation.
In the interval, Persia, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, the whole North Africa, Gibraltar and Spain had been submitted to the Islamic State, and a new civilization had been established.

The Arabs quickly assimilated the culture and knowledge of the peoples they ruled, while the latter in turn-Persians, Syrians, Copts, Berbers, and others-adopted the Arabic language. The nationality of the Muslim thus became submerged, and the term Arab acquired a linguistic sense rather than a strictly ethnological one.

As soon as Islamic State had been established, the Arabs began to encourage learning of all kinds. schools, colleges, libraries, observatories and hospitals were built throughout the whole Islamic State, and were adequately staffed and endowed.

In the same time, scholars were invited to Damascus and Baghdad without distinction of nationality or creed. Greek manuscripts were acquired in large numbers and were studied, translated and provided with scholarly and illuminating commentaries.

The old learning was thus infused with a new vigor, and the intellectual freedom of men of the desert stimulated the search for knowledge and science.

In early days at least, the Muslims were eager seekers for knowledge, and Baghdad was the intellectual center of the world. Historians have justly remarked that the school of Baghdad was characterized by a new scientific spirit.

Proceeding from the known to the unknown; taking precise account of phenomena; accepting nothing as true which was not confirmed by experience, or established by experiment, such were fundamental principles taught and acclaimed by the then masters of the sciences.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2007, 09:30:55 am »








Cultural Background

Three of the 'Abbasid Caliphs distinguished themselves greatly in this respect: the second, al-Mansur (754-775), who founded Baghdad, and, even more so, the fifth, Harun-al-Rashid whose fame has been immortalized by many legends and the seventh, Al-Ma'mun (813-833). All of them encouraged the work of the translators who were busily unlocking the treasures of Greek knowledge.

First of all the word 'alchemy', as the article al- indicates, is Arabic (al-klmya'). The origin of the word kimya', pre-Arabic, is arguable. Several more or less plausible or legendary hypotheses have been advanced. For some the word came from the Egyptian kemi (black), whence the Greek kemia which might indicate two things:

Egypt, 'the black land' according to Plutarch - alchemy would be preeminently the science of Egypt; 'the Black', the original matter of transmutation, i.e. the art of treating 'black metal' to produce precious metals.

For others, the word 'chemy' could have come from the Greek khymeia, 'fusion', i.e. the art of melting gold and silver. A Byzantine text states that Diocletian ordered the destruction of Egyptian books relating to khymeia, to the 'fusion' of gold and silver.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2007, 09:32:28 am »








Islamic Alchemy In Western Writings



Following the work of French chemist Marcellin Berthelot on alchemy, many researchers on the basis of original texts discovered and published, became interested in the study of alchemy with the Arabs: Lippmann, Wiedemann, Ganzenmuller, Stapleton, Holmyard, Plessner and especially Paul Kraus whose work about Jabir ibn Hayyan is still a classic in this subject. More recently Henry Corbin in his research on Shi'ism has tried to give an esoteric interpretation of the great alchemy texts. His ideas created a school of thought and some contemporary authors, Roger Deladriere and Pierre Lory for instance, did not escape his influence. Arabic alchemy is no longer the 'terra incognita' which, a century ago, challenged the insight of historians of science.

The large quantity of accumulated facts suggested a synthetic presentation to Fuat Sezgin and Manfred Ullmann. The former produced his in the frame of his series Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums; the fourth volume, appearing in 1971, dedicated several pages to alchemy. In his turn, Ullmann, in his book Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften in Islam, appearing in 1972, presented in about a hundred pages the whole of Arabic alchemic literature studying successively the translations and pseudoepigraphs from Greek authors, Egyptian, Indian, Persian, Jewish and Christian sources, then alchemy theories, the research of the elixir, laboratory experiments and the material employed, and the whole is copiously documented.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2007, 09:34:54 am »








                                    THE SOURCES OF ALCHEMY AMONG MUSLIMS




Pythagoras (Fithaghurus)

Pythagoras is often mentioned in Arabic philosophy and in gnomic literature. Jaldaki calls him al-mu'allim al-awwal because he acquired the science from hermetic texts. Jabir refers to him as an alchemic author and speaks of Ta'ifat Fthaghurus, the school of Pythagoras, and of his book Kitab almu'sahhahat (Book of Adjustments). Other quotations refer to Pythagoras's theory of numbers. Tughra'i mentions him several times and refers to his treatise about 'natural numbers'. The fragments of texts which are attributed to him could have come either from Turba philosophorum, where he is among the participants, or from other texts.



Archelaos

Archelaos is mentioned in the Fihrist (p. 352, 25) and by al-Kindi in his Fada'il Misr (p. 191, 11). He is considered as the disciple of Anaxagoras and the teacher of Socrates. He should not be confused with his Byzantine namesake, author of an alchemic poem of 336 verses. The Arabs consider him as the author of Turba philosophorum (Mu.shafal aljama'a) and attribute to him the Risalat madd al-ba hr dhat al-ru'ya, a text which had been revealed in a vision about the tide and which was translated into Latin with the title Visio Arislei. This text is introduced as the continuation of Turba philosophorum.



Socrates

Socrates is considered not only as a wise man but also as an alchemist. Jabir calls him 'the father and mother of all philosophers' and considers him as the prototype of the real chemist. From Socrates to Jabir, there is a continuous tradition which attributes entire treatises to him. Jabir affirms that Socrates was opposed to the writing down of alchemic knowledge to avoid its exposition to the ignorance of the masses. Most references to Socrates refer to his arithmetical speculations (theory of the balance) and also to artificial generation.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2007, 09:36:48 am »








Plato (Aflatun)

Olympiodorus already (at the end of the sixth century) considered Plato as an alchemist and Ibn al-Nadlm mentions him in the list of alchemists. Butrus al-Ilmlml mentions an alchemic device called ,hammam Aflatun (Plato's bath).

Among the books attributed to him by the Arabs we can mention the Summa Platonis of which we only have the Latin version. There is a commentary to this book - the Kitab al-Rawabi' - whose Arabic text was edited by Badawi and whose Latin translation is known by the name Liber quartorum. The contents of this work are mainly alchemic but it contains also information on geometry, physiology and astrology. The ancient authors cited are Plato, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Hipparchus, Proclus, the Sophists, Ostanes, Hermes, Asclepius and Hippocrates.

We note also that Plato takes up the story in the forty-fifth discourse in Turba philosophorum; this speech ends with the phrase al-tabi'a tulzimu-ltabi'ata wa-l-tabi'atu taqharu-i-tabSata wa-i-tabi'ata tafra hu li-l-tabl'ati (nature necessarily accompanies nature, nature overcomes nature, nature rejoices in nature), an aphorism often mentioned in Arabic alchemic literature under the name of Plato or anonymously. It comes from the Physika kai Mystika of Democritus.



Aristotle (Aristu)

Aristotle is considered as an alchemist author not so much because of his fourth book Meteorologica but because of his reputation as an all-round scholar. He wrote a book on alchemy for his disciple Alexander. In 618, by order of Heraclius, the book was translated into Syriac by the monk Jean, and the Bishop of Nisibis, Eliyya bar Shinaya, made sure of its orthodoxy. Finally Abdishu' bar Brika, Bishop of Sinjar, and later of Nisibis, made a commentary on it in Syriac of which there still exists an Arabic translation. The text contains an introduction in which Abdlshu reports the legendary history of the text followed by a Ietter from Alexander to Aristotle where the former poses questions to which the latter responds. This dialogue is called sahifat kanz Allah al-akbar (Epistle of the Great Treasure of God). it includes three chapters: (1) About the great principles of alchemy; (2) Alchemic operations; (3) The elixir. Pythagoras, Democritus, Asclepiades, Hermes, Plato, Ostanes and Balmas are mentioned in the text.

We also have a dialogue between Aristotle and the Indian Yuhin sent by the Indian king as messenger to Alexander. Ibn al-Nadim reports this dialogue to Ostanes. Finally in the Jabirian corpus there is a Kitab Musahhaha Aristutalis.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2007, 09:41:08 am »








Porphyry (d. c. 303)

Porphyry is often mentioned, especially by Jabir who attributes artificial generation to him. The later alchemists such as Tughra'i and Jaldakl also mention him.



Galen (Jahnus) (d. c. 199 AD)

According to a note in Kitab al-hajar 'ala ra'y Balinas, Galen was interested in alchemy before dedicating himself to philosophy. In fact, he is sometimes mentioned as an authority on alchemy' and fragments of alchemy texts attributed to Galen can be found in the National Library of Cairo.



Bolos the Democritean of Mendes

Bolos the Democritean lived in the second century before Christ. The work of this scholar is varied: alchemy, astrology, medicine. He is probably at the origin of the alchemic tradition transmitted by the work of pseudo-Democritus: Physika kai Mystika. He expounds there the four traditional branches of alchemy: gold, silver, precious stones, dyes. One can find the famous formula which aims to synthesize the quintessence of the alchemic art: 'one nature is charmed by another nature, one nature overcomes another nature, one nature dominates another nature'.

How can this axiom be explained in practical terms? Zosimus, commentator of the fourth century, explains: 'we can proceed with the transmutation of common metal into noble metal by working alloys or by purifying the metals, basing ourselves on the affinity between metals, knowing their "sympathies and antipathies". Raw material, sympathy, transmutation by qualitative change (of the colours), we have thus the principles that constitute alchemy.' Thus the school of Bolos brings to the Egyptian technique a philosophical reasoning which will open the way to the science of the Great Work. 'Once again', says Festugiere, 'we see the union of the Greek spirit and the Oriental art.' The art exists, from ancient times; the goldsmiths of Egypt work metals, stones and purple. But although they have innumerable recipes transmitted from father to son and kept in temple archives, they lack a reasoning method. No-one has yet joined these practices with the principles which explain and justify them.

There is practice but not theory. This is what the Greek spirit provides. The merit of Bolos of Mendes was to join theory and experiment and thus found a pseudoscience which would cross the ages up to modern chemistry.

About the same time alchemy was practiced in most Egyptian towns. This first alchemy is a mixture of hermetic or Gnostic elements and old Greek philosophy: Heraclitus, Empedocles and their speculations about the four elements, Parmenides with his theory on the unity of the whole, the Platonic cosmogony of Timaeus.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2007, 09:43:12 am »








Zosimus

The most famous character of this time is Zosimus of Panopolis (Akhmim, in Upper Egypt). He probably lived at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth century; he wrote an encyclopedia with twenty-eight books on alchemy which he dedicated to his sister Theosebeia. Some sections are original but most of it reproduces old texts lost to the present time. His name in Arabic, because of the ambiguity of the writing, is often transcribed under different forms: Risimus, Rusim, Rusam. Al-Qifli affirms that he lived before Islam.

Some of his aphorisms and anecdotes are reported by Arab authors such as Jahiz, Ibn Durayd, al-Tawhidi,. Ibn Arfa' Ra's calls him 'the universal wise man and the brilliant flame' (al-hakim aljami' wa-i-shihab al-lami'). Ibn al-Nadlm mentions four books from Zosimus: Kitab al-mafatih f-l-santa; Kitab al-sab'tuna risala; Kitab al-'anasir; Kitab ila jamb alhukama' fi-lsan'a.

The epistle from Zosimus to Theosebeia has the title Mushaf al-suwar (The Book of Images). The name of Theosebeia is often rendered as Atusabiya, Amtuthasiya, Uthasiya, etc. Zosimus can be placed at the end of an evolution in alchemy. With Bolos, it became philosophical; with Zosimus it becomes a mystical religion where the idea of salvation is predominant. In fact, the period which separates Bolos the Democritean from Zosimus saw intense alchemic activity. Vastly different elements - Egyptian magic, Greek philosophy, neo-Platonism, Babylonian astrology, Christian theology, pagan mythology - can be found in Zosimus' texts. He is full of gnostic and hermetic books, he knows the Jewish speculations about the Old Testament. He gives to alchemy a religious character which will remain forever, at least in its traditional course, since with the Arab alchemists it will retain its concrete technical character before meeting the Ismaeli gnostic speculations.

Zosimus and his contemporaries who collected their predecessors' traditions insist on their connection with the Egypt of the Pharaohs or with the Persia of Zoroastra and Ostanes. We can find texts under the name of Agathodaimon compared with Hermes. Some written pieces even say that alchemic texts were engraved in hieroglyphs on steles but it was absolutely forbidden to divulge them.

This Greek-Egyptian alchemy survived in Alexandria for several centuries. From here it will go to Constantinople, where several recensions of the 'collection of Greek alchemists' were compiled, and to the Arabs when they conquered Egypt in the seventh century.
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Bianca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 41646



« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2007, 09:47:37 am »








                                                  Hermes and Hermetic literature


According to Ibn al-Nadlm (351, 19) Arab alchemists considered the Babylonian Hermes as the first one to have mentioned the art of alchemy. Exiled by his countrymen, he came to Egypt where he became king. He wrote a certain number of books on alchemy and was equally interested in the study of the hidden forces of nature.

The Fihrist gives a list of thirteen books of Hermes about alchemy but in fact some of them are about magic. Other texts have been traced: Alfalakiyya al-kubra (The Great Epistle of the Celestial Spheres) by Hermes of Denderah; Risalat al-sirr; Kitab Hirmis ila Tat f-l-santa; Risalat harb al-kawakEb al-barbawiyya; Tadblr Hirmis al-Haramisa; sahlfat Hirmis al'ugma, commentated by Jaldaki; Risalat Qabas al-qabis fi tadbir Hirmis al-Haramisa.



                                                    Sirr al-Khaliqa of Ballnas

The Kitab Sirr al-khaliqa wa santat al-tabia also has the title Kitab al-'ilal (The Book of Causes); it was sometimes called simply li-lashya'. In the introduction a certain Sajiyus is introduced, a priest from Nablus who commented on the story of Bal.

Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy