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AGRIPPA AND ELIZABETHAN MELANCHOLY GEORGE CHAPMAN'S SHADOW OF NICHT One of the most mysterious poems of the Elizabethan age is George Chapman's The Shadow of Night. It opens by describing a 'humour of the night', a sad and weeping humour, but devoted to abstruse studies. The profound contemplations of the Night are then contrasted with the foolish and pointless activities of the Day. These experiences lead finally to a vision of the Moon, rising in magical splendour out of the darkness of the...

The hue of dungeons and the school of night7

It has been thought that this might be an allusion to Chapman's poem or rather to a school of mathematicians and philosophers, possibly including Walter Raleigh, whose ideas Chapman's poem might reflect.8 Shakespeare has been thought to have been satirising this group in his words about a 'school of night'. I have no intention of pursuing again here in terms of personalities the various hares which the words 'school of night' have started. However, a new light is surely thrown on this problem...

The Return Of The Jews To England

Since 1290 when Edward I expelled the Jews from England, there had been, officially, no Jews in the country.1 The reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Elizabeth, James I, and Charles I passed by without any acknowledged settlement of Jews being made. There certainly was some Jewish presence in the country during this long period, but a clandestine one and Jews were probably few in number. Only as a converted Jew, was it possible for a Jew to live openly in England, and even then possibly at some...

Agrippas Work 2 De Occulta Philosophia32

I have made efforts in other books33 to present in some moderately lucid form the contents of this strange work, and I must now make the attempt again. In the first two chapters, Agrippa lays down the outline. The universe is divided into three worlds, the elemental world, the celestial world, the intellectual world. Each world receives influences from the one above it so that the virtue of the Creator descends through the angels in the intellectual world, to the stars in the celestial world,...

Christian Cabala And Rosicrucianism

At the end of the chapter on Francesco Giorgi in the first part of this book, the suggestion was raised that Giorgi's philosophy may be closely related to the philosophy of Rosicrucianism. It is certain that Robert Fludd's vast volumes on the universal harmony, the Utriusque cosmi historia published at Oppenheim in 1617 19, are heavily influenced by Giorgi and represent, in essence, the Giorgi philosophy in a later form.1 Fludd, as we know, was associated with the Rosicrucian movement.2 Was,...

Till old experience do attain To something like prophetic strain

There can be little doubt that Milton knew of Agrippa's treatment of the inspired melancholy. If he knew Fludd, he would certainly have known Agrippa, one of Fludd's main sources. And he is applying it to the stages of his own inspiration, looking forward to prophetic experience in old age when he would write the great poems. Did the knowledge of Agrippa's treatment of inspired melancholy come to Milton direct from the De occulta philosophia or from the Pseudo-Aristotelian Problemata Or was it...

Fall Hercules from heaven in tempests hurled And cleanse the beastly stable of the world

Now that we know that these words of Chapman's refer to the inspired melancholy in the second of the phases described by Agrippa, their resemblance to the words of the Melancholy Jacques become still more striking and we begin to see Jacques and his Melancholy as in tune with that mourning, weeping, Saturnian, malcontent humour which Chapman describes. The Melancholy Jacques is but a preparation for the appearance of the most famous melancholic of all time, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The...

The Occult Philosophy And Puritanism John Milton

The Elizabethan movement which we have studied, and of which Spenser's Faerie Queene was the epic expression, contained strong Puritan elements. We have seen that throughout its history from Pico onwards, Christian Cabala tended to carry with it reforming enthusiasms. Reuchlin connects it with the beginning of the German reformation Egidius of Viterbo hoped much from Catholic reform. In England, the Tudor reform took up Cabalist elements, and the English representative of the Christian Cabalist...

Full fathom five thy father lies Of his bones are coral made

Though Shakespeare never wielded a wand, nor thought of himself as a magus, he is a magician, master of the spell-binding use of words, of poetry as magic. This was the art in which he was supreme and which Prospero symbolises. Ben Jonson thought differently of the poet's art. For him it must be polished by careful criticism. As we know, Jonson criticised Shakespeare for wanting art, for being uncritically verbose. 'He never blotted a line', said his admiring fellow-actors. 'Would he had...

The praise of vertue loue and beauty singing22

The Venereal theme is raised to a celestial and angelic level, as in Spenser's Hymnes published in the following year . This poem is, so to speak, a Venus picture to hang beside the Saturn and Luna pictures, not so much as a contrast to them, but as a mitigation of their severity. As in The Faerie Queene the portrait as a whole includes a Venus version, as well as Saturnian or Lunar versions, so in Chapman's mind the pictures modulate into one another. The severity of the Saturnian Law is...

With pitchie vapours and with Ebone bowes11

How strangely close this seems to the Gerung picture, where someone Hercules, if Chapman's interpretation is accepted 12 is shooting at the Sun, where dark tempests are preparing to hurl the shooter from the sky, where the vanquishing of the Sun and Day bring in the Melancholy Night of study, contemplation, and virtue. It is difficult to resist the impression that Chapman had seen something like the Gerung picture. What he might have seen is an engraving by D rer, now lost, of which the Gerung...

John Dee Christian Cabalist

The subject of John Dee's thought, science, position in the Elizabethan age, is, at the time at which I am writing this, in the melting pot. New factual material is constantly turning up many scholars are trying to assess his scientific thought the old prejudices against him as a ludicrous figure still subsist, though very much diminished in force as it becomes more and more apparent that Dee had contacts with nearly everyone of importance in the age, that his missionary journey to Bohemia had...

Reactions Against The Occult Philosophy The Witch Craze

It has been said that for Cardinal Egidius of Viterbo the discovery of the Cabala by the Christians of his own day marked a great turning-point which affected all humanity. It was a 'cause and symptom of the spiritual unity of mankind' which Egidius hoped to see soon accomplished.1 This vision lay behind the efforts of the early Christian Cabalists. It was behind that unification of all philosophies and religions sought by Pico della Mirandola and behind the hopes of Reuchlin for a more...

Introduction

The Elizabethan world was populated, not only by tough seamen, hard-headed politicians, serious theologians. It was a world of spirits, good and bad, fairies, demons, witches, ghosts, conjurors. This fact about the Elizabethans, reflected in their poetry, is too well known to need elaboration. The epic poem in which the aspirations of the age found expression evolved around a 'fairy' queen one of the most significant figures in the poem is an enchanter. And the greatest plays of the greatest...

The Reaction Christopher Marlowe On Conjurors Imperialists And Jews

Christopher Marlowe holds a most important place in English literature through his brilliant poetic gift and also as Shakespeare's exact contemporary born in 1564 and his forerunner in the creation of poetic drama. He died a violent death, stabbed under curious circumstances, in 1593, a time when Shakespeare was beginning to emerge in his full stature. No study of Shakespeare can begin without some reference to Marlowe, the predecessor, and his mighty line. Hence the literature on Marlowe is...

Elizabethan England And The Jews

We have been thinking about a Christianised Jewish influence, about Christian Cabala which was so important an element in the Renaissance tradition descended from Ficino and Pico. We have argued that there was a strong influence of Renaissance Christian Cabala in Elizabethan England, adapted to the outlook of Elizabethan religious imperialism. Now a question arises, which I endeavour to face in the present chapter, though in a superficial way and without the equipment in Hebrew scholarship...

And The Occult Philosophy John Dee And The Faerie Queene

Inspired Scholar

Of the Elizabethan poets, the one who has been placed within a recognisable thought movement is Edmund Spenser, usually described as a Neoplatonist. This label, as formerly used, left out the Hermetic Cabalist core which modern scholarship has revealed within Renaissance Neoplatonism, as formulated by Ficino and Pico. Notwithstanding the immense literature on Spenser, his Neoplatonism has not yet been tackled on modern lines, though much has recently been brought to light of which the older...

The Occult Philosophy And Magic Henry Cornelius Agrippa

The reputation of Henry Cornelius Agrippa 1486 1535 has been a survival from the witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in which he figured prominently as a prince of black magicians and sorcerers. The black magician of the ages of superstition became, in enlightened times, the absurd charlatan unworthy of serious attention. The same process occurred in the case of John Dee with the same result, that a figure of great historical importance disappeared in clouds of...

The Occult Philosophy And Melancholy Drer And Agrippa

The famous German artist, Albrecht D rer, was born in 1471 and died in 1528. He was thus a contemporary of Erasmus, Luther, and Agrippa five years younger than Erasmus twelve years older than Luther fifteen years older than Agrippa. Always a deeply religious man, D rer's spiritual power was early shown in the remarkable Apocalypse illustrations. After his second visit to Italy 1505 7 his style changed, for he had absorbed the Italian art theory based on harmony of macrocosm and microcosm,...

Medieval Christian Cabala The Art Of Ramon Lull

In the illustration shown in Plate 1,1 four men are seen sitting under a neat row of trees, neatly labelled. In the background is a rich countryside in the foreground a refreshing stream flows from a fountain. The illustration is taken from an engraving in the eighteenth-century edition of the works of Ramon Lull, which is based on medieval tradition of Lull illustration. The lady whose horse wades in the stream is Intelligence severe intellectual work is going on. The men so calmly seated in...

The Occult Philosophy In The Italian Renaissance Pico Della Mirandola

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola 1463 94 belonged to the brilliant circle around the Medici court in Florence which included another famous philosopher, Marsilio Ficino. Ficino and Pico were founders and propagators of the movement loosely known as Renaissance Neoplatonism. This movement was stimulated by the works of Plato and the Neoplatonists newly revealed to the West through the Greek manuscripts brought to Florence from Byzantium after the fall of Constantinople. Renaissance Neo-platonism...

See title verso for ISBN details

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age 'She has raised questions which will occupy scholars for decades to come. It is a very great book. A crowning achievement, one might say.' 'Among those who have explored the intellectual world of the sixteenth century, no one can rival Frances Yates. Wherever she looks, she illuminates No one has done more than she to recreate, from unexpected material, the intellectual life of past ages.'

The Cabalist Friar Of Venice Francesco Giorgi

Francesco Giorgi,1 or Zorzi, of Venice 1466 1540 entered the Franciscan Order probably in early life, though there is little documentary evidence about his early years. His main published works were the De harmonia mundi,2 first edition in 1525 Plate 8 , and the Problemata, 1536. These show clearly enough the influence upon him of the Florentine Neoplatonic movement. Giorgi's Cabalism, though primarily inspired by Pico, had been enriched by the new waves of Hebrew studies of which Venice, with...

The Occult Philosophy In The Reformation Johannes Reuchlin

Johannes Reuchlin1 1455 1522 , also known by his humanist name of Capnion, was one of the greatest scholars of the German Renaissance, equally proficient in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew learning. As a young man he travelled in Italy. He tells Pope Leo X in the dedication of the De arte cabalistica how he had met Pico della Mirandola and his circle of learned men who were bringing ancient truth to light. It was certainly Pico's work which inspired Reuchlin, and he came to Italy to learn Hebrew and...

Yates Inspired Melancholy

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age First published 1979 by Routledge amp Kegan Paul Reprinted as volume VII of The Selected Works of Frances Yates 1999 First published in Routledge Classics 2001 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor amp Francis Croup This edition published in the Taylor amp Francis e-Library, 2004. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or...