From Theatrum Paracelsicum

Dedications, Prefaces, Postfaces

from: Paracelsus, Aphorismorum aliquot Hippocratis genuinus sensus & vera interpretatio, no date [1568]
The preface addresses the reader regarding the writings of Theophrastus Paracelsus, who was admired by many for his intellect despite his simple demeanor. The author is publishing previously unreleased work by Paracelsus, including his commentary on Hippocrates' Aphorisms and treatises on corals, St. John's Wort, and water pepper. Rather than praising these works themselves, the author urges readers to form their own opinions, as they are self-evidently useful and good. The author criticizes those who unfairly mock or belittle Paracelsus' work out of jealousy, and warns against pseudodisciples who claim to follow Paracelsus but fail to truly understand or utilize his teachings, instead attacking those who disagree. The author reminds readers that greatness should be imitated in virtue, not vice, and such pseudodisciples should prove their understanding through action, not just sharp writing. Lastly, the author asks for the reader's understanding for any errors in the text, which stem from limitations in the original copy used for this publication, not from negligence or carelessness.
from: Paracelsus, Archidoxorum Theophrastiae pars prima, 1570
The reader is informed that this edition of the "Archidoxes" books by the renowned physician and philosopher Theophrastus Paracelsus is more accurate than prior versions, as it is derived directly from the author's original handwriting. In addition, a previously unpublished treatise on minerals, from Paracelsus' book on Natural Things, has been included. Despite earlier editions of the works on vitriol and sulfur being flawed, this version aims to present them in their entirety as originally intended by the author. The goal is to disseminate Paracelsus' works widely, enlightening many with his revelations about nature, under the conviction that knowledge kept hidden is of no benefit to anyone.
from: Wunder Artzney/ Von allerley leibs gebrüchen, 1573
This lengthy preface is a treatise on the practice of medicine, primarily arguing that there are three main fields of knowledge necessary for true healing: nature, alchemy, and astrology. The writer presents a case against some of the conventional medical practices of their time, using imagery of digestion to illustrate how a weak body struggles to break down and benefit from common remedies. They promote their philosophy of Theophrastian medicine, presumably named after the ancient philosopher Theophrastus, suggesting it is more gentle, effective, and less invasive. The author then moves onto the importance of the understanding of astrology in medicine, asserting that studying the heavens and the planetary movements can be integrated into the medical curriculum quite feasibly. This knowledge, they argue, would provide a crucial understanding of when to administer particular treatments. The final section of the text is more admonitory, criticizing those who dismiss the proposed methods as too complex or impossible to learn. It accuses such naysayers of the vices of "infidelity" and "ingratitude". The writer concludes with a call to embrace these techniques for the overall benefit of Christendom, invoking a spiritual and divine sanction for their perspective.
from: Thomas Erastus, Explicatio Grauissimae Quaestionis, ed. Giacomo Castelvetro, no place, no printer [London: John Wolfe], 1589
The printer explains his efforts to publish a treatise by the renowned Thomas Erastus on Ecclesiastical Discipline and Excommunication. He was motivated by the high esteem in which theses on the topic were held by learned and pious individuals. After discovering the unpublished work among Erastus's papers, neglected by his heirs, he acquired and diligently printed it. He anticipates criticism from those more devoted to partisan interests than truth, suggesting they might accuse him of further disturbing the Church in tumultuous times. He defends his decision, highlighting the support of leading theologians and praise from other scholars. He urges readers to appreciate his diligence and defend him against detractors, hoping to be encouraged to print more beneficial works in the future.

Notices, Editorial Remarks etc.

from: Paracelsus, Außlegung Der Figuren/ so zu Nürenberg gefunden seind worden, 1569
The text suggests that a person, believing themselves to be knowledgeable, hastily interpreted some magical figures. However, as understanding magical art requires more than a cursory interpretation, their efforts were deemed fundamentally useless, despite initial positive reception.
from: Wunder Artzney/ Von allerley leibs gebrüchen, 1573
The reader is informed that the book has been preserved in its original, simple German language without any alterations or improvements. This is to illustrate the faithfulness of its intent and to highlight the linguistic evolution over time. The book, deemed a divine gift, was intended for devout individuals rather than the godless. Therefore, it is primarily intended to benefit pious Christians.


from: Paracelsus, Labyrinthus medicorum errantium, ed. Achatius Morbach, Nürnberg, 1553
The poem celebrates medicine as a divine art, attributing its origin to God and considering it the most noble of all human pursuits. It emphasizes medicine's ability to understand hidden causes, heal the sick, preserve health, and guide proper diet. Historically, kings highly valued it, and sacred scriptures command honor for pious doctors. The poem ends with a call to thank God, who delivers people from illness through the art of medicine.
from: Paracelsus, Septem libri de gradibus, de compositionibus, de dosibus receptorum ac Naturalium, ed. Adam von Bodenstein, Basel: Pietro Perna, 1568
The text presents a couplet in which the Roman numerals spell out the year in which the book was first written.
from: Leonhard Thurneisser, ἑρμηνεία. Das ist ein Onomasticum, Interpretatio oder erklerunge, 1574
The poem expresses the author's stance on the value of practical experience over theoretical learning. The author questions if anyone wonders why they write about unfamiliar matters that even learned people do not know, despite their extensive studies in various renowned universities. These scholars have spent much time and money on education, yet their extensive reading doesn't equate to understanding if they fail to grasp the essence of their learning. Notable figures like Plato and Aristotle didn't gain their wisdom solely from reading. Therefore, reading and traveling are of little use without hands-on practice. The author emphasizes that they know their craft through practice, as direct experience often reveals the truth where written words may deceive. Much like a handpost that points the way without traversing it, writings can guide towards many arts, but true understanding comes from hands-on practice. The author finishes by saying they are unaffected by envy, for they have achieved through their work what hundreds could not achieve through reading.
from: De cometis dissertationes novae, ed. Thomas Erastus, Basel: Leonhard Ostein for Pietro Perna, 1580
The poem is a tribute to Thomas Erastus, praising his contributions to society and intellectual prowess. The author lauds Erastus for being beloved and admired by discerning and thoughtful individuals. Erastus's written works, which have evidently benefitted communal life, are celebrated for their depth and expertise. The poem contrasts Erastus's wisdom and teachings with others, suggesting that few, if any, could rival him in natural talent, sagacity, or instructional methods. Notably, false prophets and the renowned yet controversial figure, Paracelsus, are criticized, indicating that Erastus's views may have been in opposition to certain popular beliefs or pseudo-sciences of his time.
from: Jonas Kitzkatz, Speculum alchimistarum, Hof: Matthäus Pfeilschmidt, 1583
The poem discusses a widespread debate concerning alchemy and the teachings of Paracelsu about a mystical gem. It contrasts the viewpoints of scholars who deny the possibility of alchemical transformations with those driven by greed or curiosity, who believe in the potential to create gold and other miracles through alchemy. The debate considers the nature of a mysterious gem, described as both a stone and not a stone, and compares it to the wealth of mythical figures like Croesus and Midas. The dispute is said to be settled by the wisdom of Kitzkatz, though it awaits further validation from higher authorities, possibly the Rhine court.
from: Gerhard Dorn, Schlüssel der Chimistischen Philosophy, 1602
The poem is a philosophical riddle, presenting the journey of a complex entity. It depicts a self-contradictory being, embodying earth and fire, birth and death, immensity in minuteness, and perpetual motion in stillness. This entity confesses its paradoxical nature: it must destroy its mother to be born, death precedes its life, and darkness is its parent. It houses great virtue in its smallness, remains solid and indivisible, and is colored yet desires the contrast of black and white. It is shapeless and produces a mysterious yellow light. The entity experiences a constant cycle of spirit departure and return, indicating its resilience and ability to contain multiple souls. The poem ends by challenging the reader to unravel its riddle, underscoring the elusive nature of understanding and knowledge.

Other Texts

from: Paracelsus, Operum latine redditorum tomus II, 1575
The texts provided are a collection of epitaphs written by the friends of Theophrastus Paracelsus, as a testament to their piety and goodwill towards him. 1. The first epitaph states that under a small mound rests Theophrastus, a man of great renown. He was a prolific healer who could treat various diseases and even alleviated leprosy through his art. He cured incurable dropsy but ultimately succumbed to the inexorable death. The reader is asked to say the final words. 2. The second epitaph affirms that Theophrastus's body rests in an urn, and that even the famed Aristotle was not his equal. 3. The third epitaph remembers Theophrastus as a Swiss physician of unmatched medical skill, integrity, and charity towards the needy. It mentions his age at death but does not specify it. 4. The fourth epitaph commemorates Theophrastus as the only physician who could cure gout, leprosy, dropsy, and humoral imbalances. 5. The fifth epitaph suggests that readers should not be surprised that even people like Theophrastus, who seemed worthy of immortality and had few equals in medical arts, are mortal. Nonetheless, he will be immortal in the eyes of God. 6. The sixth epitaph portrays Theophrastus as a distinguished physician, level-headed in all fortunes, devoted to fairness, kindness to the poor, and religious. His death is mourned by all good people. 7. The final epitaph is for Theophrastus, a highly skilled physician whose death robbed the world of a man of complete learning, who saved many who were on the brink of death. The epitaph is placed by N. Setznagel, a citizen of Salzburg, out of piety. It also mentions his lifespan and death but does not specify them.