Τετάρτη, 6 Ιανουαρίου 2016

Lapis quern honorant philosophi “the stone of which the philosophers speak


Lapis quern honorant philosophi “the stone of which the philosophers speak

Lapis philosophorum occurs in works attributed to Raymund Lully (1234-1315), and in those of Amoldus de Villa Nova (1240-1314). Probably it was used earlier; it appears in various mediaeval works of uncertain age or doubtful authenticity; e.g. in the Clavis Majoris Sapientiœ attributed to Artefius or Artesius, whose date has been put by some c1130. 

In some of these also we find lapis philosophicus, I. philosophi­calis.
But the earlier works (e.g. the mediaeval Latin De Investigatione Perfecti Magisterii), passing as translated from Geber (Abu Musa Ja’far al-Sufi), usually refer to it simply as Lapis “the Stone,” or noster lapis “our stone.” Albertus Magnus (1205-82), who doubted the transmutation of metals, refers to it as lapis quern philosophi laudant ubique, “the stone which the philosophers everywhere laud,” and lapis quern honorant philosophi. 

It is thus possible that philosophorum originated later, as an identifying adjunct to lapis, as if “the Stone, of which all the philosophers speak,” “the Stone of the philosophers,” and that the descriptive phrase grew at length into a specific name or title............
There is likewise a reference to philosophorum acetum in two versions of a text datable on internal evidence to the mid­ thirteenth century.
Forms such as these, and the use of philosophi to mean “alchemists” in the Clavi s maioris sapienti ae, go back to the use by writers in Greek of (φιλόσοσφος) “philosopher” with special reference to alchemical practitioners; this was widespread from late antiquity onwards.


Alchemical specialties could, then, be labelled as philosophorum in early texts, and they continued to be so labelled: hence, for instance, the title of the fourteenth-century Rosarius philosophorum attributed to Amau de Vilanova and the requirement in that work that a process take place per mensem philosophorum idest per.XL. dies, and hence also the reference to mercurius philosophorum in another text extant in a fourteenth-century manuscript.


From a note on lapis philosophicus and some other medieval names of the philosophers’ stone By John Considine
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