Authors/Thomas Erastus

From Theatrum Paracelsicum

Personal Bibliography

Dedications, Prefaces, Postfaces

Erastus expresses concern about the prevalence of Astrology, which he views as idolatrous. He criticizes how people depend on astrological signs for everyday decisions and argues this belief hinders physicians' work. He states his commitment to promoting the glory of God and plans to help common people understand the importance of relying on God's grace, rather than stars, by translating a book by Hieronymus Savonarola into German. He appreciates the princes' efforts in promoting God's name and concludes by expressing gratitude for translation assistance he received from Sebastianus Glaser, the chancellor.
from: Thomas Erastus, De astrologia divinatrice epistolae, ed. Johann Jacob Grynaeus, Basel: Pietro Perna, 1580
Erastus recounts his experiences upon being called from Italy to serve the Princes of Hennenberg. He was taken aback by the locals' astrological superstitions, especially their reliance on zodiac signs and planetary positions when seeking medical care. Despite his Italian training, he often felt compelled to accommodate these beliefs initially. However, he grew bolder, challenging these misconceptions and publishing the Italian treatise of the revered Hieronymus Savonarola to counteract the superstitions. This act garnered both praise and condemnation, with some questioning his critique of astrology. Motivated by a fellow physician, Christophorus Stathmion, who disseminated Erastus's letters to prominent scholars, Erastus decided to publicly release these letters. He reviewed them, omitting irrelevant parts and adding valuable correspondences. Some names were withheld for privacy, and he removed the name of an individual who succumbed to the plague. Erastus conveys respect for his correspondents, suggesting some may have written not to dispute him but to challenge him intellectually. He hopes the publication will illuminate the strengths of each argument for truth seekers.

In this dedication, Thomas Erastus tells the story of revisiting his past writings during a winter spent in Mosbach. Among these, he rediscovered and revised a work on forming syllogisms, which he decided to publish under the names of the recipients of this letter. The booklet also includes an explanation on the difference between Dialectics and Logic, a topic requested by a learned young man, Simon Grynaeus. Erastus expresses his hope that the booklet will be beneficial to its readers and considers further publishing if it proves useful. He concludes with a blessing for the readers and their endeavors.

In this preface, Thomas Erastus critiques Johannes Marbach's book on the Holy Supper of Jesus Christ. He suggests that Marbach's work, intended to suppress God's glory, may ironically end up promoting it. Erastus finds Marbach's teachings absurd and his work unacademic. He believes Marbach misrepresents the Zwinglians, a group of Swiss Protestants, and uses his book primarily to defame them. He also challenges Marbach's skill as a writer and theologian and believes it's the job of a doctor, not a theologian, to correct Marbach's intellectual confusion.
from: Thomas Erastus, Defensio Libelli Hieronymi Savonarolae de Astrologia Diuinatrice, [Genève]: Jean Le Preux and Jean Petit, 1569
Erastus writes to the Princes of Henneberg, sharing a defense of Hieronymus Savonarola against a physician named Christoph Stathmion. Erastus converted the text from German to Latin to ensure its philosophical nuances were captured and to cater to those proficient in Latin. He delayed its publication because of other commitments and potential challenges from adversaries. Erastus acknowledges the Princes' desire for pure worship of God and hopes others will follow their noble example.
from: Thomas Erastus, Defensio Libelli Hieronymi Savonarolae de Astrologia Diuinatrice, [Genève]: Jean Le Preux and Jean Petit, 1569
Erastus, after returning to Germany from Italy 13 years ago, was surprised and disheartened to find many in Germany heavily reliant on astrological predictions, in contrast to the limited astrological influence he observed in Italy. To counter this trend, he translated and published a work by Jerome Savonarola that criticized astrologers. Though some astrologers threatened and criticized Erastus, none provided solid counterarguments. Upon a friend's urging, Erastus added a treatise on divination, asserting that any divination not inspired by God is false and illicit. He hopes readers will move away from astrological and all other forms of divination, turning towards truth, piety, and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars prima, 1571
Erastus recounts his first encounter with the works of Paracelsus. Initially dismissive of Paracelsus' complex language and unconventional ideas, Erastus revisits his work due to growing praise from respected individuals. However, upon deeper analysis, he finds more contentious material. Driven by a debate about the element antimony and encouragement from others (including the Duke's physician), he decides to refute Paracelsus' doctrines. He then completes the first part of his work focused on disproving Paracelsus' superstitious and magical remedies. Erastus dedicates his refutation to the Duke for three main reasons: the Duke's physician's encouragement, the prestige the Duke's name would bring to his work, and to dispel any notion of the Duke's approval of Paracelsus' contentious ideas.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars prima, 1571
Erastus explains his intent to refute Paracelsus' doctrines, not out of complete condemnation, but in an effort to distinguish the plausible from the absurd. Despite criticizing Paracelsus' concepts as often false or contradictory, Erastus commends his dedication to preparing medications. He states his intention to discuss these remedies further and defends the skillful preparation of treatments. Erastus also asserts that Paracelsus' writings are self-refuting, and he only addresses the most intolerable aspects. He concludes with an assurance that his critique aims to eliminate doubt and is guided by Philosophy and Sacred Scriptures.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars altera, 1572
Erastus explains his motivation to critique the works of Paracelsus. He was moved by the exhortations of learned men and evidence to confront Paracelsus's books, finding them filled with dangerous errors and blasphemous content. He aims to protect piety and refute harmful superstitions. In the second part, he scrutinizes Paracelsus's doctrines, asserting their fallacies and harm, while promoting his own principles as grounded in truth and reality. He requests the prince, known for his piety and promotion of arts, to receive, judge, and, if agreeable, defend his arguments against detractors.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars altera, 1572
The work, a treatise on metals, was begun during the Count's stay with Erastus due to illness and was written partly due to requests from friends and colleagues. Erastus recognizes the Count's superior understanding of both natural and legal matters, which influenced his decision to dedicate the work to him. The treatise aims to provide a scientific basis for understanding metals and dispel misconceptions spread by the likes of Paracelsus and his followers. Erastus hopes his treatise will offer insight and caution for those less knowledgeable and save them from imprudent actions or decisions. He offers this work as a sign of his steadfast respect for the Count.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars altera, 1572
Erastus mentions the Antiparacelsic Disputations and the history of the Psammolith, a stone believed to have healing powers. The text highlights Zebrzydovuski's dedication to learning and virtue, underlining his willingness to leave his homeland and wealth for his studies. It commends Zebrzydovuski for emulating his ancestors' virtues, while encouraging him to remember his illustrious lineage. It culminates with a prayer for Zebrzydovuski's safety and prosperity in service of the Church and the State.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars tertia, 1572
Thomas Erastus criticizes the Paracelsian method of healing. Erastus views it as a plague that has permeated all levels of society, bringing harm and evil. Despite its absurdity and impiety, he laments its acceptance by the learned. He praises Ludwig for his love of piety and good literature, and his protection against this medical plague. Erastus presents this critique as a defense of truth, refuting the Paracelsian lies and asserting the art of medicine. He ends with the hope that Ludwig will eliminate these 'pests of human life' from his court and dominion.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars tertia, 1572
12 years ago, Erastus received a booklet from his friend Camillus Franchino. This booklet contained a debate between scholars on the underlying cause of diseases. Erastus deliberated long on how to respond, wanting both to satisfy his friend's inquiry and respect the learned men involved. Instead of critiquing each argument, Erastus decided to address the central issue, aiming to clarify his position and the broader topic. He integrated this response with his arguments against Paracelsus for coherence. With the passing of Camillus, Erastus seeks a new patron and turns to Johann, trusting in his renowned reputation and wisdom to shield and lend credibility to the work.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars tertia, 1572
Thomas Erastus writes Pontanus, reminiscing about the dispersion of the University due to the plague. Erastus had hoped to relocate to a place beneficial for his studies but was directed to Mosbach, where he found the conditions unsuitable. He brought only works by Galen and Aristotle and some personal papers, intending to review and sort them. The cramped conditions prevented him from studying these texts. Instead, he reviewed various letters, including those sent to Pontanus in 1556 about disease causes. On rereading, Erastus regretted not including testimonies from Galen and made additions and corrections. He integrated testimonies from Galen and elaborated on vague points. He also included content from another letter concerning treatment.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputationum de medicina nova Philippi Paracelsi pars quarta et ultima, 1573
Erastus writes about the many reasons why scholars traditionally dedicate their writings. He lauds the Republic's wisdom and benevolence, especially towards physicians, noting their support for prominent doctors and their efforts to prevent the spread of deceptive medical practices by the Paracelsians. Erastus is particularly impressed by the Republic's dedication to preserving genuine medical knowledge and protecting its citizens from fraud. He has dedicated this fourth part of his work to them, driven by his admiration and hope that they continue to guard against the dangers of the Paracelsians. Erastus believes that by highlighting their example, other regions will be inspired to similarly defend their people from such deceptive practices.
from: Thomas Erastus, De occultis pharmacorum potestatibus, Basel: Pietro Perna, 1574
Erastus dedicates his commentary to Eberhard Wambolt, valuing his passion for philosophical and medical subjects. The dedication symbolizes mutual respect between them. Erastus, influenced by requests from figures like Doctor Henry Smetius, delves deep into medicinal properties, contrasting their findings with the claims of the Paracelsians who tout their medicines' superior, almost mystical qualities. Erastus admires Eberhart's pursuit of meaningful knowledge and wishes more nobility would focus on profound truths instead of shallow or misleading beliefs. He credits Eberhart with encouraging him to share these insights broadly, promoting collective understanding.
from: Thomas Erastus, De occultis pharmacorum potestatibus, Basel: Pietro Perna, 1574
Erastus acknowledges the challenges of challenging established opinions and beliefs. Recognizing that longstanding sentiments often bear more weight than robust arguments, he emphasizes his genuine pursuit of truth, not personal ambition. He conveys humility, stressing that truth can be suppressed but never completely defeated. Referring to ancient writers, he notes that even esteemed figures like Galen are not infallible. The author underscores his indifference to public opinion and praises, prioritizing a clear conscience and true understanding above all. He presents his arguments with an open invitation for correction, underlining the value of collective wisdom in uncovering truth. Asserting that his motivations are purely academic and not for personal glory, he deems it disgraceful to seek acclaim by criticizing others, especially those who've contributed positively to society.
from: Thomas Erastus, Comitis Montani ... quinque librorum de Morbis nuper editorum viva anatome, Basel: Pietro Perna, 1581
Thomas Erastus emphasizes the importance of discussing diseases of the entire substance. While initially dismissing its significance, Erastus later recognized the confusion surrounding the topic and felt compelled to present it for scholarly debate. He elaborates on matters that could have been briefly summarized, ensuring comprehensive understanding. Erastus critiques the followers of Paracelsus for their hasty acceptance of certain remedies like Tinctures and Quintessences as sole treatments for these diseases. Erastus underscores the necessity of clarifying this subject, not just for its utility but as a public duty. He expresses gratitude to Ewich for his prior contributions and encourages all truth-seekers to engage in this discourse.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputatio de putredine, Basel: Leonhard Ostein for Successors of Johannes Oporinus, 1580
Erastus emphasizes the importance of understanding decay, not just for physicians but also for other professionals, particularly philosophers. He highlights the widespread discussion on the topic, noting the varied opinions and the lack of consensus, especially concerning Aristotle's views and those of physicians. He points out disagreements among commentators of Aristotle's "Meteorologica" Book 4, which further complicates the understanding of decay.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputatio de auro potabili, Basel: Pietro Perna, 1578
Erastus warns of the dangers posed by pharmacists who, either through ignorance or deceit, administer harmful medicines. These remedies, especially those prepared from metals using certain processes, pose a significant risk to health. Erastus laments that even when the ill effects of such medicines are evident, the culprits often evade accountability. These concoctions, touted as elite treatments and often sold to the affluent, are at best ineffective and at worst lethal. Erastus notes that such practices not only exploit the sick financially but also jeopardize their health and lives. While he anticipates criticism from both the uninformed and the knowledgeable, he asserts his duty to protect those who can be safeguarded from these harms. The motivation for his writings came from observing a wise man being duped into purchasing such remedies, revealing how pervasive the deceit has become. Erastus dedicates his argument to the noble Conarsine, emphasizing his respect for him and his pursuit of truth. He lauds Conarsine's virtues and commitment to enhancing his intellect, hoping Conarsine can leverage his influence to combat these medical deceptions.
from: Thomas Erastus, Repetitio disputationis de lamiis seu strigibus, Basel: Pietro Perna, [1578]
Erastus reflects on a scholarly debate regarding the penalties for witches. He mentions how, seven years prior, a debate was sparked on this subject. He believed he had defended his position robustly, drawing arguments from religious texts. However, he was challenged by a compassionate scholar who defended the persecuted women, arguing against Erastus. Despite anticipating stronger counterarguments, Erastus was surprised to find none he hadn't already addressed. He emphasizes that their discourse is vital as it concerns human salvation. Erastus openly invites further refutation based on sacred writings, suggesting that clarity on such significant matters benefits the Republic.
from: De cometis dissertationes novae, ed. Thomas Erastus, Basel: Leonhard Ostein for Pietro Perna, 1580
One year ago, Erastus wrote a detailed letter to Dudith on the topic of terrestrial heat and recounted the undue criticism he faced from Lord Marcello Squarcialupo. He also explored Aristotle's perspectives on comets, defending them against Marcello's objections. Asserting that his arguments are consistent with the holy scriptures, Erastus aimed to offer a thorough understanding of comets, discussing both their nature and significance. However, upon printing, Erastus noticed an inadvertent rearrangement of the content. He writes to Lord Dudithius to clarify this oversight, ensuring that readers are not mislead by the altered sequence.
from: De cometis dissertationes novae, ed. Thomas Erastus, Basel: Leonhard Ostein for Pietro Perna, 1580
During the recent appearance of a comet, people everywhere were engrossed in discussions about its significance. While everyone believed that comets don't appear without reason, there were varying opinions about their nature and implications. Erastus, when asked, voiced his view based on sound reasoning rather than popular hearsay. He penned this opinion and, unexpectedly, it got printed alongside another of his works. Regretfully, typographical errors in the print distorted some of its meanings. Seizing the chance, Erastus revisits his commentary, aiming to refine and expand it. A critique he addresses is the perceived over-reliance on reason and scant mention of experience. Citing Galen, Erastus likens those who solely depend on either reason or experience to a lame person. True understanding, he asserts, necessitates the harmonious application of both. While he feels he hasn't erred in his initial discussion, he is open to expanding on areas deemed lacking for clarity and depth.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputatio de putredine, Basel: Leonhard Ostein for Successors of Johannes Oporinus, 1580
Thomas Erastus dedicates his work to Prince Ludwig IV, recounting his 21 years of service in the Prince's school of medicine. Erastus reflects on his efforts to teach medicine, emphasizing its divine origin and its role as a conduit of God's healing. He laments the distortions and superstitions that have tainted the art, attributing these corruptions partly to the devil's attempts to undermine God's works. Erastus acknowledges his endeavors to cleanse medicine of these impurities and to present it in its purest form to his students. He expresses gratitude to Prince Ludwig for his unwavering support, both to him personally and to the academic institution. Erastus praises the Prince's dedication to the flourishing of the academy and his benevolence towards its faculty. He acknowledges the immense debt of gratitude he and his colleagues owe to the Prince.
from: Thomas Erastus, Disputatio de putredine, Basel: Leonhard Ostein for Successors of Johannes Oporinus, 1580
Erastus addresses the reader, asking for an open-minded examination of his work on decay, which presents a perspective different from prevailing views. He urges readers not to dismiss his arguments without understanding them and emphasizes that truth aligns with facts, not popular opinion. Erastus believes his interpretation of Aristotle's words is genuine and consistent with both Aristotle's writings and observable facts. He challenges the reader to judge the validity of his arguments by comparing them to real-world observations. Erastus asserts that his work aligns with the views of both philosophers and physicians. He clarifies that his intention is not to overshadow others or seek undue praise but to contribute to public knowledge. Before publishing, he consulted with scholars to anticipate potential objections.
from: Thomas Erastus, Theses de pinguedinis in animalibus generatione et concretione, Heidelberg: Jacob Müller, 1580
Erastus dedicates his work to the Prince, highlighting a recent exposition he made on a chapter from Galen's book. Erastus defended Galen against criticisms from Giovanni Argenterio, emphasizing the importance of the discussed topic for both medical students and those studying physiology. He believes the subject is worthy of public debate and recalls similar debates by renowned scholars like Laurent Joubert. Erastus expresses joy as Lord Charles is designated as the Rector, the highest authority in their Republic, believing this appointment will bring glory to the liberal arts and benefit the Academy.
from: Thomas Erastus, Comitis Montani ... quinque librorum de Morbis nuper editorum viva anatome, Basel: Pietro Perna, 1581
Erastus critiques Comes Montanus, a physician from Vicenza, for his harsh criticisms of contemporary physicians in his recent publications. Erastus argues that while no one is without fault, it's unjust to dismiss works containing valuable knowledge due to a few errors. He emphasizes the importance of addressing controversies based on foundational principles of the discipline to avoid endless disputes. Erastus praises Schwendi for his kindness and admiration, expressing gratitude for the support he received. He also notes Schwendi's love for medicine and his appreciation for scholarly discussions. Erastus acknowledges Schwendi's renowned virtues, both in times of peace and war, recognized not only in Germany but also by the Turks and other nations. He humbly suggests that his own praises might not do justice to Schwendi's illustrious character, which might be better celebrated by great poets like Homer or Virgil.
from: Thomas Erastus, Ad Archangeli Mercenarii Philosophi Patauini Disputationem de putredine responsio, Basel: Conrad von Waldkirch, 1583
Erastus discusses the importance and controversy surrounding the concept of "Putrefaction." He emphasizes its significance not only to doctors but also to philosophers, noting that many have debated its nature for centuries. He had previously published a disputation on this topic, believing that both Aristotle and ancient doctors like Hippocrates and Galen did not diverge from popular opinion, even if they seemed to. Erastus then mentions a critique by Archangel Mercenary, a philosopher from the University of Padua, who accused Erastus of spreading false doctrine. Erastus defends himself, stating he wasn't aware of Mercenary's writings when he presented his views. He decided to respond to Mercenary's objections after realizing that not everyone saw them as weak as he did and to clarify certain points for the benefit of students. Erastus also combined his response with Mercenary's disputation for readers' convenience. He dedicates his work to Zwinger for three reasons: to honor Zwinger's esteemed name, to seek Zwinger's judgment on the controversy due to his expertise and fairness, and to express gratitude for Zwinger's past kindnesses.
from: Thomas Erastus, Explicatio Grauissimae Quaestionis, ed. Giacomo Castelvetro, no place, no printer [London: John Wolfe], 1589
Erastus addresses his readers to explain his motivations for writing on the topic of excommunication. About sixteen years prior, he observed some individuals fervently advocating for a form of excommunication, which they deemed as divinely ordained. Erastus was concerned about the potential division this could cause within the Church, especially when many were still hostile to their teachings. He believed the focus should be on bringing more people to the truth rather than excluding them.
  Erastus delved into ancient writings and consulted with scholars to understand the historical and theological perspectives on excommunication. He found inconsistencies and disagreements among theologians. Turning to the scriptures, he noted that the Jewish community, which God praised for its laws, did not have separate political and ecclesiastical judgments. He wondered why the Christian Church, blessed with Christian governance, couldn't be governed similarly.
  After sharing his thoughts with reputed individuals, he was met with resistance and even hostility. Some, he felt, prioritized their authority over the truth. When Erastus condensed his writings into theses for broader consultation, he faced further opposition. Critics argued that he shouldn't engage in theological matters, given his medical background. They also tried to discredit him with various arguments and accusations.
  Despite the opposition, Erastus revised his theses, aiming to clarify his stance and provide stronger evidence. He emphasized his sole desire for the truth to be understood and for God to be glorified, even if it meant facing personal shame or criticism.

Notices, Editorial Remarks etc.



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