Contact: Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn
Document created: 1999-04-07
Das iudicium magnum des Johannes Carion für Albrecht Dürers Patenkind
Mit einem Geleitwort von Dieter Wuttke
Wiesbaden [Harrassowitz] 1997
XIII, 339 pp.,83 ill. ISBN: 3-447-03894-2
Series:Gratia ; 32
Price: DEM 138 (= ca. EUR 70)
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This title was reviewed by: Heinrich C. Kuhn of "Institut für Geistesgeschichte und Philosophie der Renaissance (München)"
Item arrived at GGREN on:1999-03-22
Review was finished on:1999-04-07
In his "Einleitung" (General introduction, pp.1-16)) Reisinger gives information about astrology in the renaissance, and about some literature on renaissance astrology.
The following chapter with the title "Astrologie und Horoskopie. - Eine Einführung in historische Horoskope" provides an introduction into the techniques of casting horoscopes and the background of those techniques (pp. 17-98). It gives information about the "practical" side of astrology, about how to apply astrological methods to write a horoscope, and about the more " theoretical" bases of such methods. It is very accessible for lay-persons (like e.g. me).
However: Reisinger's reasons for his choice of sources for this compilation are far from transparent; he often refers to texts (e.g. 20th century special dictionaries and handbooks) obviously not accessible to any 1530s astrologer; but: I know far to little about the astrology of those times to be able to tell whether such a compilation would have been possible using a handful of the sources available to Johannes Carion (who wrote the iudicium that is in the centre of the item reviewed here), and I don't know, to what extend the decision to use only such sources would have changed the "factual" content of this introduction into renaissance astrological techniques: I "applied" Reisinger's text to the Guicciardini horoscope edited in Raffaella Castagnola's I Guicciardini e le scienze occulte ... (Firenze [Olschki] 1990) and found it surprisingly helpful when trying to understand that text, and - unsurprisingly - it is well adapted for the understanding of Carion's text. Thus I tend to consider some "strange" aspects of this chapter ( · the claim that the last time astrology flourished was the 16th century (p. 18) - but I don't know about Bamberg esoterica bookshops ...
[;-)]..., · Aristotle's [Eudoxian] cosmology as the basis for Ptolemy's [epyciclic-excentric] cosmology (p. 19), · the use of Melanchthon's Latin for all quotations from Tetrabiblos (passim), · the use of the German translation from the Arabic for Picatrix instead of the Latin text(s) edited by David Pingree (London [Warburg Institute] 1986) (passim), · the lack of a discussion whether, and in case that yes where Schoener's methods for the calculation of "dignities" are indeed "innovative" in comparison to Ioannes Hispanus' - to whom Schoener refers (cf. p. 76 & p. 77)) as rather minor flaws.
The next part (pp. 99-152) offers an editorial preface to, edition of, and glossary for Johannes Carion's horoscope concerning the Nuremberg aristocrat Albrecht VI. Scheurl (by the way: the use of the fact that Albrecht VI. Scheurl's godfather was Albrecht Dürer is far more prominent in the title of Reisinger's book than in its text). The text that Reisinger here edits is written in German (with some lines of Latin). It is fascinating to read as it is a text that predicts clearly and with a considerable amount of detail, and integrates medical and astrological knowledge. The editor's notes make it easy to read.
The glossary provides explanations of astrological and medical terms; when comparing its medical parts with the "Index materiae medicae" in the edition/translation of Ficino's Three books on life by Carol V. Kaske & John R. Clark (Binghamton 1989) I learned that apparently Carion's medicine is quite distant from Ficino's medicine - one of the many things I learned during this attempt of mine to review Reisinger's book.
What follows in this book is a commentary on Carion's text (pp. 153-243). Amongst other things it becomes obvious from this commentary, that part of Carion's predictions are only with difficulties inferable from the constellation at the time of Albrecht VI. Scheurl's birth (cf. e.g. pp. 196s; 203; 240) - Carion's astrology seems to be a less "exact" science than I expected it to be.
The next chapter (pp. 245-305) gives biographical information about Johannes Carion (with an interpretation of his predictions as more exact than suggested by the source given for this interpretation ...(p. 255)), about Christoph II. Scheurl (the person who commissioned the horoscope) - with an (apparently non-astrologic) prediction by Reisinger of what would have been Christoph II. Scheurl's career if he had remained at Wittemberg (p. 269) , and about Albrecht VI. Scheurl himself (with some conjectures that may or may not be correct (e.g. p. 294 concerning what he studied at the Leipzig and Bologna universities)).
The final sections of the book contain concluding remarks (pp. 307-311), editions of 7 short manuscript texts concerning Albrecht VI. Scheurl plus a letter by Carion (pp. 313-322), a bibliography and an index of the sources of the illustrations (pp. 323-339).
These illustrations are many; a good part of them are an useful aid to a better understanding of what is said in the text; the other illustrations are at least "nice to have". It probably is not part the office of a reviewer to state what he would like to have as parts of the item reviewed instead of what he has; nevertheless: reading about Carion's horoscope and reading the horoscope itself has increased my interest: for me it would have been welcome to have (instead of or in addition to the "non-necessary" illustrations) a comparison (or even comparisons (the reviewers is insatiable
[:-)])) of Carion's horoscope with other contemporary horoscopes - e.g. the horoscope concerning Albrecht VI. Scheurl by Lucas Gauricus that is contained in the same manuscript that contains Carion's horoscope. Perhaps there is some hope that Reisinger gives us such comparisons in another text or an article?
Author1: Reisinger, Reiner Author2: Author3: Author4: Author5: Author5: main Title: Historische Horoskopie subtitle: Das iudicium magnum des Johannes Carion für Albrecht Dürers Patenkind edition: Mit einem Geleitwort von Dieter Wuttke series: Gratia ; 32 place of publ.: Wisbaden publisher: Harrassowitz year: 1997 no of pages etc.: XIII, 339 pp.,83 ill. ISBN: 3-447-03894-2 currency: DEM price: 138 aprox. price in EUR: 70