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John Meador  John Meador is offline
Join Date: 01 Aug 2003
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 164
John Meador 
emblematic tradition: Horapollon & Pythagorean

Kwaw wrote:
"While talking about the emblematic tradition, there may also be a connection with suited cards in that the Mamluk cards has aphorisms or idimatic sayings written on them."

Very intriguing! Are translations available of any of these?

Kwaw, your earlier mention of Claude Mignault of Dijon's "Theoretical Writings on the Emblem came to my attention in seeking intersections between Horapollon and Pythagorean interests in early Tarot.

A Treatise on Symbols Claude Mignault of Dijon (1573)
Theoretical Writings on the Emblem: a Critical Edition, with apparatus and notes.
By Denis Drysdall

"Mignault's original chapter on Pythagorean symbols has nothing to do with Clement of Alexandria's, though Clement is the main source for his chapter on Egyptian writing. It also has nothing to do with the collection of aphorisms known as the Symbola Pythagorae, for he here describes more hieroglyphs taken from Iamblichus and Valeriano. The reason for this appears to be that the Symbola Pythagorae are verbal 'symbols', whereas he is writing of visual symbols. When, in 1602, he does include the text of the Symbola Pythagorae (pp. 5-19) and a section on those other verbal symbols, enigmas and anagrams (pp. 32-33), he seems to do so reluctantly and only to respond to criticism he has received."

On Pythagorean symbols
"Certainly the ancient Pythagorean symbols made no small use of this knowledge; Pythagoras learned them from the Tyrrhenians[9] (among whom he was brought up, according to Plutarch) or from the Egyptians, as the noble philosopher Iamblichus reports, and elaborated them in this way because he wanted most of his teaching to be hidden by means of these mysteries. ...This Egyptian wisdom was brought together in a book by Chaeremon,[11] and by Horapollo; Pythagoras enlarged it, and it was elaborated by those excellent philosophers and noble writers Athenaeus, Clement and Cyril of Alexandria, Pausanias, Porphyrius, Pliny the Elder, Apuleius, and Plutarch. Having almost died out by our time it was, with great labour and industry, with admirable and almost divine genius revived and completed in all its elements by Pierio Valeriano in his great Commentaries on the Hieroglyphs. The usefulness of this early wisdom - lest I seem to ignore the point - was grasped long before Pythagoras by Moses, Solomon, and other wise men among the Hebrews...[12]"

see also:
Piety and Pythagoras in Renaissance Florence: The Symbolum Nesianum
Christopher S. Celenza (Leiden: Brill, 2001) 238 pp.
" extensive situating of <Giovanni [1456-post 1522] > Nesi and of Renaissance Florence in relation to Pythagoreanism and the various currents of Platonism and Neoplatonism -- that is to say, in relation to esoteric currents of antiquity and late antiquity. In addition to unveiling an important Renaissance work, Celenza's immense scholarship illuminates the hitherto less examined role that Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism played for the Renaissance Platonists. Piety and Pythagoras in Renaissance Florence represents a major contribution to the series Studies in the History of Christian Thought, and to our understanding of the Renaissance period."

Discusses therein the Pythagorean tradition absorbed via Iamblichus by Ficino and Nesi.

"The Neoplatonist Giovanni Nesi wrote “Oracolo de novo saeculo” in which he integrated Neoplatonism with the prophetic tradition of Joachimism (Reeves, 1976)."

"Iamblichus believed that these same eternal measures (DM 65.6) were preserved by Egyptian priests from whom Pythagoras himself gained his knowledge of mathematical mysteries, and to whom lamblichus also looked for guidance and authority in establishing his own synthesis of 'divine philosophy and the worship of the gods'. This demanded that Iamblichus, like Pythagoras, develop a way of life that accounts for differences among souls while allowing them 'equal' access to the gods."

"The fitting of physical numbers to their divine causes and to the needs of the soul was essential to the art of theurgy and was not limited to physical numbers. For, Iamblichus says: 'As there are numbers fitting nature, so there are [numbers] fitting ethical habits. And as there is a physical so there is an ethical arithmetic' (O'Meara 1990, 126). Maintaining that 'each single virtue fits a number', Iambichus explains the numerical correspondences to wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice (126). In theurgic terms, whenever these ethical numbers were employed in incantations, music, or diagrams, the habits of the soul corresponding to them would be aligned with the divine numbers they reveal, provided the soul had the capacity to receive them."

"Iamblichus says that Pythagoras taught the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian mysteries, including their initiations into divine mathematics (VP 11). These 'mathematical mysteries' (VP 228) allowed the soul to participate directly in the number gods. In a cosmos whose body is generated by numbers it should not be surprising that the most revered form of worship would engage numbers directly, and Iamblichus says that Pythagoras taught the Sythian Abaris a form of 'divination through numbers' to replace his use of sacrificial animals (VP 93). Iamblichus maintains that Pythagoras, following Orpheus, 'created a marvelous divination and worship of the Gods according to the numbers most allied to them' (VP 147). That numbers were employed by Pythagoreans and theurgists is clear, yet what is not clear is precisely how they were used. Iamblichus implies that the Pythagoreans honored the gods with images carved into the shapes of Plato's five geometric solids, including the dodecahedron as the spheric image of the All (VP 88; see Clark 1989, 39, 66-67). Proclus and Damascius associate geometric
shapes and angles with specific deities, crediting their knowledge to the Pythagorean Philolaus (Morrow 1970, Proclus. In Euclidem 173.11-21; cf. Ruelle 1889, Damascius: Dubitationes et Solutiones ii 127), and Damascius says that while each god is associated with a specific rectilinear form, 'it is certain that the circular figure is common to all the intellectual Gods as intellectual' (Ruelle 1889, Damascius Dub. et Sol. ii 127). The circularity of the gods seems to be a recurring motif, for in the De Mysteriis Iamblichus explains that whenever a god unites with the soul its possession is effected in a circular way. In dreams, in private acts of divination, or in public oracles, when the god takes possession of a human being it 'entirely fills and dominates him, and embraces him in a circular way from everywhere at once' (DM 113. 10-11 ; cf. 103.14-104.4, 126.11-14). For Iamblichus, to become spherical was to be assimilated to the Nous, so the spherical experience of the theurgist was a symptom of his or her deification. The sphere held a special significance for Pythagoreans as the most complete theophany."

"... Iamblichus says: 'the ascent to the One is not possible unless the soul coordinates itself to the All and with the All, moves itself toward the Universal Principle of all things' (Ruelle 1889, Damascius: Dub. et Sol i 79.12-14). This coordination begins with material theurgies, progresses through intermediate theurgies, and culminates finally with the immaterial theurgies that employ mathematical images, not as conceptual abstractions but as noetic signatures of the gods, Pythagorean hieroglyphs of intelligible reality."
-Gregory Shaw: Eros and Arithmos: Pythagorean Theurgy in Iamblichus and Plato, in: Ancient Philosophy 19, 1999.

"Cosimo de' Medici resolved to establish a Platonic Academy in 1439, and Ficino writes that he was selected to run it when he was still only a boy. Cosimo had been moved to this decision by the arrival in Italy of Gemistos Plethon, who had come with the Greek Emperor and Patriarch to discuss at the Council of Florence a proposed union of the Greek and Roman Churches. Plethon was so steeped in the philosophy of Plato that he seemed to contemporaries like another embodiment of the great philosopher."

"Cusanus <in De Docta Ignorantia, 1440>... places himself in a line of thinkers which can be traced through Boethius back to Plato and Pythagoras. These thinkers believed in the special efficacy of the language of mathematics when applied to metaphysical and epistemological problems. There is also a medieval tradition of interest in the problem of proportions. See John Murdoch, "The Medieval Language of Proportions: Elements of Interaction with Greek Foundations and the Development of New Mathematical Techniques" in Scientific Change, ed. A. C. Crombie, London: Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1963. Cusanus can be linked with this tradition through the De reparatio calendarii. He was also interested in the problem of the squaring of the circle, which fascinated medieval mathematicians."

" In the De docta ignorantia (1440) ... formulations which revolve around the conception of unity as a trinity, a discovery which Cusanus attributes to Pythagoras. Cusanus' knowledge of Pythagoras' doctrine is derived essentially from Boethius and from the adaptations and expansions of his doctrine made by various twelfth century Platonists, Thierry of Chartres and John of Salisbury in particular."

" For Cusanus, who believed that the mind must nevertheless proceed from something known in its exploration of the unknown, man could do no better than to use mathematics, our "most firm" and "most certain" means of knowing, at once concrete and transcendent. Turning once again to his favorite Pythagorean and Platonic sources for guidance, he points out that Pythagoras was the first to recognize that truth is most properly and efficaciously pursued through numbers. On account of this insight, Pythagoras is rightly called the first philosopher. The Platonists followed him in this conviction, as did Boethius, "the most learned of the Romans," and the Christian Platonist, Augustine. Even Aristotle, who seemed to want to distinguish himself from his Platonic predecessors, resorted to the use of mathematics in presenting various arguments in the Metaphysics. Moreover, number was used by both Pythagoreans and Peripatetics to refute Epicurean atomism, a particularly dangerous doctrine because it negated the existence of God, thus undermining the foundation of all truth." "
<<DDI, 1.11, p.23-14>>
-Pauline Moffitt Watts: Nicolaus Cusanus, 1982

Reading the early Christian theology of arithmetic: methods of research and the search for a method Joel Kalvesmaki
"In the area of the intersection of the alphabet, numbers, and magic, the very old work by Dornseiff is surprisingly very rich and fresh. It is the best place to start to get a sense of the importance of the linguistic use of numbers—gematria, magic alphabets, and so forth"

"...Christian obsession with the Trinity is a Pythagorean corruption of the pure message of Paul and of the New Testament. Hopper suggests that through Augustine’s stamp of approval, arithmology became official and a dominant force in the Middle Ages."

"Hopper does make the excellent point that Trinitarian debates, particularly in the second and third centuries, were informed by neopythagorean concerns..."

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