Zosimos of Panopolis

December 5, 2018 | Author: EneaGjonaj | Category: Esotericism, Alchemy, Western Philosophy, Religious Belief And Doctrine, Religion And Belief
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Zosimos of Panopolis editions are available.


Alc Alchemy

In about 300 AD, Zosimos provided one of the first definitions of alchemy as the study of “the composition of waters, movement, growth, embodying and disembodying, drawing the spirits from bodies and bonding the spirits within bodies.”[5] In general, Zosimos’ understanding of alchemy reflects the influence of Hermetic of Hermetic and  and Gnostic  Gnostic spiri  spiritualitie tualities. s. He asserted asserted that the fal fallen len angels taug taught ht the the arts arts of metallurgy to the women they married, an idea also recorded in the   Book of Enoch   and later later repea repeated ted in the the GnosGnos[6] tic  Apocryphon of John. In a fragment preserved by Syncellus,, Zosimos wrote: Syncellus

Distil Distillat lation ion equipm equipment ent of Zosimo Zosimos, s, from from the 15th 15th centur centuryy [1] Byzantine Greek  manuscript   manuscript  Codex  Codex Parisinus 2327.

Greek:: Ζώσιμος; Ζώσιμος; also also known Zosimos of Panopolis (Greek by the Latin the  Latin name  name  Zosimus Alchemista , i.e. “Zosimus

The ancient and divine writings say that the angels became enamoured of women; and, descending, taught them all the works of nature. ture. From them, them, theref therefore, ore, is the first first tradition,  chema, concerning these arts; for they called this book  chema  and hence the science of chemistry takes its name.[7]

the Alchemist”) was a Greek a  Greek[2][3] alchemist alchemist and  and Gnostic  Gnostic mystic who mystic  who lived at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century AD. He was born in Panopolis in  Panopolis,, present day  day   Akhmim in Akhmim  in the south of Egypt of  Egypt,, and flourished ca. 300.. He wrote 300 wrote the the olde oldest st known known books books on alche alchemy my,, whic whichh he calle calledd “Che “Cheiro irokme kmeta, ta,”” using using the Greek Greek word word for “things made by hand.” Pieces of this work survive in the original  Greek language  language   and in translations into   Syriac or Arabic or Arabic.. He is one of about 40 authors represented in a compendium of alchemical of alchemical writings  writings that was probably put together in  in   Constantinople in Constantinople in the 7th or 8th century AD and that exists in manuscripts in Venice and Paris. Stephen of Alexandria is Alexandria is another.

The external processes of metallic transmutation—the transformations of lead and copper into silver and gold (see (see the the Stockh Stockholm olm papyrus papyrus)—h )—had ad alwa always ys to mirror mirror an inner process of purification and redemption. Wrote Zosimos in Concerning the true Book of Sophe, the Egyptian,

and of the Divine Master of the Hebrews Hebrews and the Sabaoth

Arabic translations of texts by Zosimos were discovered Powers: in 1995 in a copy of the book Keys of Mercy and Secrets of Wisdom  by Ibn  by  Ibn Al-Hassan Ibn Ali Al-Tughra'i', Al-Tughra'i', There are two sciences and two wisdoms, a Persian  Persian alchemist.  alchemist. Unfortunately, the translations were [4] that of the Egyptians and that of the Hebrews, incomplete and seemingly non-verbatim. The famous which which latter latter is confirmed confirmed by divine divine justic justice. e. The index of Arabic books, Kitab al-Fihrist  by Ibn  by Ibn Al-Nadim, Al-Nadim, scien science ce and wisdo wisdom m of the most most exce excell llen entt domdommentions earlier translations of four books by Zosimos, inate the one and the other. Both originate origina te in howev however er due to inconsi inconsiste stenc ncyy in translit transliterat eration, ion, these these olden times. times. Their origin origin is without a king, autexts were attributed to names “Thosimos”, “Dosimos” tonomous and immaterial; it is not concerned and “Rimos"; also it is possible that two of them are with material and corruptible bodies, it opertransla translatio tions ns of the same book. F. Sezgin has found found 15 ates, without submitting to strange influences, manuscripts of Zozimos in six libraries, at Tehran, Caire, supported by prayer and divine grace. Istanbul, Istanbul, Gotha, Dublin and Rampur. Michèle Michèle Mertens analyzes what is known about those manuscripts in her The symbol symbol of chemist chemistry ry is drawn drawn from from the translation translation of Zozimos, concluding concluding that the Arabic tradicreation by its adepts, who cleanse and save the tion seems extremely rich and promising, and regretting divin divinee soul soul bound bound in the the elem elemen ents, ts, and who who free the difficulty difficulty of access to these materials, until translated the divine spirit from its mixture with the flesh. 1


2 As the sun is, so to speak, a flower of the fire and (simultaneously) the heavenly sun, the right eye of the world, so copper when it blooms—that is when it takes the color of gold, through purification—becomes a terrestrial sun, which is king of the earth, as the sun is king of heaven.[8] Greek alchemists used what they called ὕδωρ θεῖον, meaning both divine water , and sulphurous water .[9] For Zosimos, the alchemical vessel was imagined as a baptismal font, and the tincturing vapours of mercury and sulphur were likened to the purifying waters of baptism, which perfected and redeemed the Gnostic initiate. Zosimos drew upon the Hermetic image of the krater  or mixing bowl, a symbol of the divine mind in which the Hermetic initiate was “baptized” and purified in the course of a visionary ascent through the heavens and into the transcendent realms. Similar ideas of a spiritual baptism in the “waters” of the transcendent Pleroma are characteristic of the Sethian Gnostic texts unearthed at Nag Hammadi.[10] This image of the alchemical vessel as baptismal font is central to his Visions, discussed below.


Carl Jung and the Visions of Zosimos

(an "agathodaemon" and also a homunculus, but see also Agathodaemon the alchemist). Zosimos also dreams of a “place of punishments” where all who enter immediately burst into flames and submit themselves to an “unendurable torment.” Jung believed these visions to be a sort of Alchemical allegory, with the tormented homunculi personifying transmutations—burning or boiling themselves to become something else. The central image of the visions are the Sacrificial Act, which each Homunculus endures. In alchemy the dyophysite nature is constantly emphasized, two principles balancing one another, active and passive, masculine and feminine, which constitute the eternal cycle of birth and death. This is also illustrated in the figure of the  uroboros, the dragon that bites its own tail (and which appears earliest in the  Chrysopoeia). Selfdevouring is the same as self-destruction, but the unison of the dragon’s tail and mouth was also thought of as self-fertilization. Hence the text of “Tractatus Avicennae” mentions “the dragon slays itself, weds itself, impregnates itself.” In the visions, circular thinking appears in the sacrificial priest’s identity with his victim and in the idea that the homunculus into whom Ion is changed devours himself—he spews fourth his own flesh and rends himself with his own teeth. The homunculus therefore stands for the uroboros, which devours itself and gives birth to self. Since the homonculus represents the transformation of Ion, it follows that Ion, the uroboros, and the sacrificer are essentially the same.[11]

One of Zosimos’ texts is about a sequence of dreams related to Alchemy, and presents the proto-science as a much more religious experience. In his dream he first 3 Surviving works comes to an altar and meets Ion, who calls himself “the priest of inner sanctuaries, and I submit myself to an unendurable torment.” Ion then fights and impales Zosimos This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it. with a sword, dismembering him “in accordance with the rule of harmony” (referring to the division into four bod  Authentic Memoirs ies, natures, or elements). He takes the pieces of Zosimos to the altar, and “burned (them) upon the fire of the  The Book of Pictures  (Muṣḥaf aṣ-ṣuwar) art, till I perceived by the transformation of the body that I had become spirit.” From there, Ion cries blood, and Concerning thetrue Book of Sophe, the Egyptian, and  horribly melts into “the opposite of himself, into a muof the Divine Master of the Hebrews and the Sabaoth tilated anthroparion”—which Carl Jung perceived as the Powers (French translation) first concept of the homunculus in alchemical literature.  The Final Quittance  (French translation) Zosimos wakes up, asks himself, “Is not this the composition of the waters?" and returns to sleep, beginning the  On the Evaporation of the Divine Water that fixes visions again—he constantly wakes up, ponders to himMercury  (French translation ) self and returns to sleep during these visions. Return On the Letter Omega  (English excerpt translated by ing to the same altar, Zosimos finds a man being boiled G.R.S. Mead; French translation) alive, yet still alive, who says to him, “The sight that you see is the entrance, and the exit, and the transformation Treatise on Instruments and Furnaces (French trans... Those who seek to obtain the art (or moral perfeclation) tion) enter here, and become spirits by escaping from the  The Visions of Zosimos  (English translation) body”—which can be regarded as human distillation; just as how distilled water purifies it, distilling the body purifies it as well. He then sees a Brazen Man (another ho- The complete (as of 1888)  "Œuvres de Zosime”  were munculus, as Jung believed any man described as being published in French by M. Berthelot in  Les alchimistes metal is perceived as being a homunculus), a Leaden Man  grecs. English translations remain elusive. •

6.2 Arabic works



See also •

 Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam

 Mary the Jewess


Vol. I (introduction) p. 119, 127— 174, 209, 250; vol. II (Greek text) p. 28, 117—120; Vol. III (trans.) p. 117—242. H. D. Saffrey & Zosime de Panopolis (trans. M. Mertens). Les

alchimistes grecs, vol. IV.1: Mémoires authentiques   (in French).


Les Belles-Lettres. pp. CLXXIII– 348. ISBN 2-251-00448-3. p. 1— 49: I =  Sur la lettre oméga; V = Sur l'eau divine ; VI =  Diagramme (ouroboros); VII = Sur les appareils

[1]   Marcelin Berthelot,   Collection des anciens alchimistes  grecs (3 vol., Paris, 1887–1888, p.161); F. Sherwood Taylor, “The Origins of Greek Alchemy,”  Ambix  1 (1937), 40. [2] E. Gildemeister and Fr. Hoffman, translated by Edward Kremers (1913).  The Volatile Oils . 1. New York: Wiley. p. 203.

et fourneaux  6.2

[3] Bryan H. Bunch & Alexander Hellemans(2004). The History of Science and Technology . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 88. ISBN 0-618-22123-9.

Zosimos, of Panapolis (2007). Abt, Theodor; Warburton, David, eds.

The Book of Pictures. Mushaf  as-suwar by Zosimos of Panapolis. Facsimile edition. Edited  with an introduction by Theodor  Abt . Corpus Alchemicum Ara-

[4] Prof. Hassan S. El Khadem (September 1996). “A Translation of a Zosimos’ Text in an Arabic Alchemy Book” (PDF).  Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences . 84  (3): 168–178.

bicum (CALA) II.1. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications. Zosimos, of Panapolis (2011). Abt, Theodor, ed. The Book of Pic-

[5] Strathern, P. (2000). Mendeleyev’s Dream—the Quest for  the Elements. New York: Berkley Books. [6] Stroumsa, Gedaliahu A. G. (1984).   Another Seed: Studies in Gnostic Mythology . Volume 24 of Nag Hammadi Studies. Brill Archive. pp. 139ff.  ISBN 9004074198.

tures. Mushaf as-suwar by Zosimos of Panapolis. Edited with an introduction by Theodor Abt. Translated by Salwa Fuad and Theodor  Abt . Corpus Alchemicum Ara-

[7]   Imuth,  quoted in Syncellus, Chron.  Drummond, William. “On the Science of the Egyptians and Chaldeans”. The Classical Journal . London: A. J. Valpy.  18 : 299. September and December, 1818 [8] Carl Gustav Jung; Elizabeth Welsh; Barbara Hannah (1960).  Modern Psychology: November 1940-July 1941:  Alchemy, vol. 1-2 . University of California: K. Schippert & Co. pp. 44–45. [9] Schorlemmer, Carl (1894).  The Rise and Development of  OrganicChemistry. London: Macmillan and Company. p. 6. [10] Fraser, Kyle (2004). “Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch: Alchemy as Forbidden Knowledge”.   Aries:  Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism.  4.2 . [11] Jung, Carl (1983). “The Visions of Zosimos”. Alchemical  Studies. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-018499.

6 6.1

Bibliography Fragments Berthelot,



Collection des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs  (in French). Paris: Steinheil.

Arabic works

bicum (CALA) II.2. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications. ISBN 3-9522608-7-8.


Studies Abt, Theodor (2011). “Introduction to the Facsilmie Edition, Introduction to the Translation,” in Zosimos of Panapolis; Theodor Abt (ed.), The Book of pictures. Mushaf 

as-suwar by Zosimos of Panapolis.  Edited with an introduction by Theodor Abt. Translated by Salwa Fuad and Theodor Abt. Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum (CALA) II.2. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications.   ISBN 3-9522608-78. p. 17-139. Berthelot, Marcelin (1885). Les Origines de l'alchimie  (in French). Paris: Steinheil. pp. 177–187. Berthelot, Marcelin (1888). Collec-

tion des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs


4 (in French). Paris: Steinheil. Vol. I (introduction) p. 119, 127—174, 209, 250. Berthelot, Marcelin (1893). La Chimie au Moyen Âge  (in French). Paris: Steinheil. Vol. II, p. 203— 266; Vol. III, p. 28, 30, 41. Mead, G.R.S (1906). “Zosimus on the Anthropos-Doctrine”.   Thrice

Greatest Hermes: Studies in Hellenistic Theosophy and Gnosis . III. London and Benares: The Theosophical Publishing Society. pp. 273–284. Jung, C. G. (1943). Psychology and  Alchemy. Lindsay, Jack (1970).   The Ori-

 gins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt .  ISBN 0-389-01006-5. Jackson, A. H. (1978).   Zosimos of Panopolis. On the letter Omega . Missoula (Montana). Knipe, Sergio, “Sacrifice and selftransformation in the alchemical writings of Zosimus of Panopolis,” in Christopher Kelly, Richard Flower, Michael Stuart Williams (еds),   Unclassical Traditions. Vol.

II: Perspectives from East and West  in Late Antiquity   (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011) (Cambridge Classical Journal, Supplemental Volume 35), 59-69.



Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

7.1 •

Text Zosimos of Panopolis  Source:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zosimos_of_Panopolis?oldid=747137117 Contributors:  Tzaquiel, Justin Ba-

con, Goethean, Lcgarcia, Klemen Kocjancic, Rich Farmbrough, Bender235, Dralwik, Woohookitty, Etacar11, Merlinme, The wub, FlaBot, Spacepotato, Conscious, Pigman, Gaius Cornelius, Theelf29, Nicke L, Petrouchka, PTSE, Pfft Bot~enwiki, Kramden, That Guy, From That Show!, Crystallina, Jagged 85, Sadads, Sadi Carnot, Mukadderat, Robofish, ShakingSpirit, Connection, Davhorn, PamD, ARBlackwood, Thijs!bot, Ba rticus88, Roger Pearse, Picus viridis, Iridiusprime, Waacstats, Viogfernos, Gun Powder Ma, VolkovBot, OwenWallace, Madhero88, Gnosticfenrir, Thanatos666, Ajrocke, PolarBot, Sirlanz, Wahrmund, ClueBot, J8079s, Niceguyedc, Fraserk, DumZiBoT, Addbot, Tassedethe, Lightbot, Yobot, KamikazeBot, AnomieBOT, Μυρμηγκάκι, LlywelynII, Citation bot, OllieFury, Quebec99, GrouchoBot, Omnipaedista, Calcinations, Citation bot 1, Trappist the monk, RjwilmsiBot, EmausBot, Dcirovic, ZéroBot, Helpful Pixie Bot, Car Henkel, MrBill3, Mogism, Sjrct, Tony johnsong, Spinel9876, BineMaja, Piledhighandeep, KasparBot, Jmc76 and Anonymous: 23

7.2 •

7.3 •

Images File:Zosimos_distillation_equipment.jpg   Source:   

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Zosimos_distillation_ equipment.jpg  License:   Public domain Contributors:   Illustration from the 15th century Byzantine Greek manuscript, Parisinus graces, as reproduced in, Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs (3 vol., Paris, 1887–1888, p.161)  Original artist:  Unknown Byzantine Greek illustrator, reproduced by Marcelin Berthelot in his 1887 text, Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs

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