Astrology and Magic from the Medieval Latin and Islamic World to Renaissance Europe: Theories and Approaches, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Astrology and Magic from the Medieval Latin and Islamic World to Renaissance Europe

Theories and Approaches, 1st Edition

By Paola Zambelli


312 pages

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Hardback: 9781409425144
pub: 2012-08-28

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Astrology and Magic from the Medieval Latin and Islamic World to Renaissance Europe brings together ten of Paola Zambelli's papers on the subject, four of which are published in English for the first time. The papers in Part I of this volume deal with theories: the ideas of astrology and magic held by Renaissance thinkers; astrologers' ideas on universal history and its cycles; i.e. catastrophes and rebirths, theories; and myths regarding the spontaneous generation of man himself. Part II focuses on the role of astrologers in Renaissance society. As political counsellors, courtiers, and academics, their ideas were diffused and appreciated in both popular and high culture. Part III looks at the Great Conjunction of 1524 and on the long and extended debate surrounding it, which would not have been possible prior to Gutenberg, since astrologers printed numberless booklets (full of religious and political innuendo) predicting the catastrophe - flood, as well as earthquake or fire - foreseen for February 1524 (which, in the event, proved to be a month of extraordinary mild weather). Part IV reprints some review-articles of twentieth century scholars whose writing has contributed to our understanding of the historical problems concerning magic and other connected debates.


'Un certo tipo di storiografia anglo-americana ci ha negli ultimi anni messo in guardia dall’essere presentist in materia di storia; Zambelli ci convince del contrario e ci esorta invece ad un uso sapiente e accorto del senno di poi.' Bruniana and Campanelliana

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part 1 Astrology and Magic as Theories: Theories on astrology and magic (1348-1586) in recent interpretations; Imagination and its power: desire and transitive or psychosomatic imagination; Pietro Pomponazzi's De immortalitate and his clandestine De incantionibus: Aristotelianism, eclecticism or libertinism? Part 2 Birth, Catastrophe, Cycles and Other Astrological Themes: 'Creating worlds and then laying them waste': the cyclical nature of history: notes on historians and on Giovanni Pico della Mirandola; 'The earth was like a sponge and men lived within it': ideas on spontaneous generation of man among Islamic and Latin thinkers. Part 3 Astrologers and Magicians in their Historical Role: Astrologers' theory of history; Many ends for the World: Luca Gaurico, instigator of the debate in Italy and Germany. Part 4 Methodological Notes: Alexandre Koyré and Lucien Lévy-Bruhl: from collective representations to paradigms of scientific thought; From Menocchio to Piero della Francesca: the work of Carlo Ginzburg; From the quaestiones to the essais: on the autonomy and methods of the history of philosophy; Bibliography of Zambelli's writings; Indexes.

About the Author

Paola Zambelli is Professor of History of Philosophy at the University of Florence, Italy.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century