Preface, no date (1568), Gerhard Dorn to the Reader (BP101)

From Theatrum Paracelsicum
Author: Gerhard Dorn
Recipient: Reader
Type: Preface
Date: no date [1568]
Pages: 2
Language: Latin
Quote as:
Editor: Edited by Julian Paulus
Paracelsus, Pyrophilia vexationumque liber, ed. Gerhard Dorn, Basel: Pietro Perna 1568, sig. a2r–a2v [BP101]
Translation: Raw translation see below
Abstract: In this preface to a book, Dorn explains his decision to add a new title to a work of Paracelsus. He notes that many readers, who form judgments without fully understanding a text, might be deterred by the term 'Vexation' in the original title. The author hopes that the additional title will encourage these readers to delve deeper into the text and gain a proper understanding. He explains that Paracelsus embedded deep mysteries in his works, making accurate translations and interpretations a challenging task. Paracelsus wrote this work primarily to support those seriously committed to the study of Alchemy ('Pyrophilists'), encouraging them to endure its challenges patiently. The author believes the term 'Pyrophilia' encapsulates the spirit of the book and hopes that the revised title will better guide and serve its intended readership. (generated by Chat-GPT)
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[sig. a2r] Translator lectoribvs.

Non est quòd quispiam siue Theophrasto faueat, uel aduersetur, uitio mihi uertat, si libelli titulo, non prætermisso tamen, titulum adiunxerim: priusquam eius rei causam intelligat. Animaduerti plerosque Lectores, eos potißimum qui de rebus non introspectis, imò uix superficialiter uisis, iudicare solent, oblato Vexationis uacabulo, mox à lectura libelli faciem auertere: quòd fortaßis authorem illis inuisum, existiment ad eorum contumeliam id scripsisse. Falso quidem falsius id fore cognoscerent, si libellum inspicientes uel tantillum intelligerent. Ego ut illis in posterum, quum titulum nouum inspexerint, etiam inquirendi cur id à me factum sit, ac simul quod immerito contemserant, intellecta nunc tituli ratione proprij, diligendi præberem occasionem: ea sumpta, Paracelsi mentem aperire uolui lectoribus in unica dictione scilicet, præceptorem nostrum artis huius maximum inclusiße mysterium, quod etiam in omnibus eius operibus uidere licet, nec uerbulum unum arcano uacuum esse positum. Inde fit ut eorum traductiones, & potißimun interpretationes, quàm difficiles periculosæ magis existant: ut si tantillum ab authoris phrasi sermonem torqueas, etiam eius mentem prorsus, & arcanorum seriem peruerteris, uiamq́ue lectoribus obstruxeris ad ea capescenda, quæ prius erant faciliora. Cum tam in seipso fuisset expertus, quàm uarijs uexationibus alumnos, atque discipulos torquere soleat Alchimia suos, nullosque [sig. a2v] præter paucißimos, ac ualde patientes inter, uix unicum lætum, contentumq́ue reddere. Misertus eorum exhortari uoluit, ne uexationibus huiusmodi perterriti, uel tedio quopiam affecti desisterent: imo potius finem eius rei, donec artem ipsam, & naturam fessam reddidissent, patienter, & ea quæ suis pollicitationibus in dies offerunt expectarent. Istud est arcanum in hac arte scitu maximè necessarium ijs qui metam attingere cupiunt: quod quos latuerit perseuerareque (notatis tamen erroribus correctisq́ue) tedebit, eis & adire Corinthum negabitur. Cum itaque Paracelsus libellum hunc Pyrophilis tantum (ut ex eius præfatione luce clarius patet) ad eorum exhortationem scripserit, & non illis qui blandas canidasq́ue manus carbonibus tingere, facieiq́ue rugas ignibus contrahere fugiunt: nihilominus utilitatem artis ambiunt. Quid huic libello tituli conuenire magis potuit, quod adderetur proprio, non in supplementum (quo quidem non in diget) sed in contementium artem ignis resistentiam, quàm sit Pyrophilia? de qua totum etiam Compendium hic disserit. Hæc sunt quæ de titulo nouo lectorem absoluere possunt, ne propter priorem à lectura detorqueat animum: si prima facie non arriserint, repetat si libuerit, sin minus abstineat, nemo pro suo commodo cogendus est. Vale.

English Raw Translation

Generated by ChatGPT-4 on 29 June 2023. Attention: This translation is a machine translation by artificial intelligence. The translation has not been checked and should not be cited without additional human verification.

Dear readers,

It is not for anyone to favor Theophrastus or oppose him, and blame me for adding a title to this small book without omitting the existing one, before understanding the reason for this action. I have noticed that many readers, especially those who make judgments on matters they have not deeply studied, are deterred from reading the text upon seeing the term 'Vexation.' They perhaps assume that the author, whom they may dislike, wrote the text to insult them. They would quickly learn their mistake if they attempted to understand the text, even slightly. Therefore, I have added the new title to prompt them to question why I have done so and to encourage them to appreciate what they have unfairly dismissed, after understanding the proper reason for the title.

The purpose of this addition is to reveal to the readers that Paracelsus, our great master of this art, has encapsulated a mystery within a single phrase. This mystery can be seen in all his works, and there isn't a single word devoid of its secret meaning. This makes translations and, most importantly, interpretations exceedingly difficult and risky. Even a minor diversion from the author's phrasing can significantly distort his intended meaning, sequence of secrets, and obstruct readers' understanding, making what was previously more straightforward to become challenging.

Paracelsus, having experienced for himself and seen his students and disciples struggle with the various difficulties Alchemy can inflict, rendering few among them satisfied or content, sought to encourage them. He urged them not to be frightened or disheartened by these tribulations but to patiently endure until they exhausted the art and nature itself and waited for what their daily promises offer. This is the most crucial secret in this art for those who aspire to reach the goal. If this escapes anyone's notice, they will grow weary of persevering (although their mistakes are noted and corrected), and they will be denied access to Corinth.

Therefore, since Paracelsus wrote this little book for Pyrophilists alone (as is clear from his preface) to encourage them, and not for those who fear soiling their soft and manicured hands with coal, or wrinkling their faces with heat - yet still covet the benefits of the art, what title could be more fitting to add to this book than 'Pyrophilia,' which discusses the entire compendium. These are the points that can justify the new title to the reader and prevent him from being discouraged from reading because of the initial title. If they do not find it pleasing at first glance, they may revisit it if they wish; otherwise, they may refrain. No one should be compelled beyond their comfort. Farewell.