Thursday, February 14, 2013
Greco-Egyptian Alchemy in Byzantium (Study)
Greco-Egyptian Alchemy in Byzantium The main concern of this paper will be with the problems raised by the reception of ancient alchemy in Byzantium. After a brief introduction, I will start from the study of a pre-Byzantine author, Zosimos of Panopolis, and deal with the following questions : How, from a purely material viewpoint, were Zosimos’ writings handed down during the Byzantine period? Did Byzantine alchemists have access to his works and did they resort to them?
Was Zosimos known outside the alchemical Corpus; in other words, did Graeco Egyptian alchemists exert any kind of influence outside strictly alchemical circles? When and how was the alchemical Corpus put together? In a more general way, what evidence do we have, whether in the Corpus itself or in non-alchemical literature, that alchemy was practised in Byzantium? Answers (or at least partial answers) to these questions should help us to understand and define to some extent the place held by the ‘sacred art’ in Byzantium.