OCCULTISM & THEOLOGY

Adversus Fallaces et Superstitiosas Artes, id est, de Magia, de Observatione Somniorum, et de Divinatione Astrologica.

Venice, Giovambattista Ciotti Senese, 1592

£1950

8vo. pp. (vi), 256, (x). Roman and Italic letter, printed side notes. IHS monogram on title page surrounded by angels holding Passion symbols, small floriated initials and decorative head and tailpieces. Title page a little dusty with additional marginal oil mark, light ink mark and some further soiling in a few places, very tiny worm trail between gatherings A and K, small tear to right lower margin of R4. A good copy in later ¼ vellum over boards, gilt title of spine, number 82 inked on lower edge; wormed. “C. Riosa” on fly, unidentified ownership inscription in a contemporary hand on title page.

Scarce edition of this extremely interesting work on astrology and divination by the Jesuit philosopher Benito Pereira (1535-1610). He was born in Ruzafa (Valencia), entered the Society of Jesus in 1552 and taught literature, philosophy and theology at the Collegium Romanun until the end of his life. In 1576 he published “De principiis”, considered a fundamental work for the Counter-Reformation. In “Adversus fallaces” Pereira expresses his opinion on the judiciary astrology or divination, questioning the theories of Pomponazzi and Pietro d’Abano on natural magic. He admits the validity of natural magic but condemns  astrology, based on cabalistic and symbolical images.

Dedicated to the papal ambassador Camillo Caetano, the book is divided into three parts, respectively concerned with the different aspect of magic, observation of dreams and divination by astrology. Each chapter is preceded by a list of topics and disputes. A general introduction presents the purpose and of the work following the opinions of philosophers and Fathers of the Church, and observing the following axioms: divination is condemned by the Catholicism and in disagreement with philosophy, astrologers don’t really know physical phenomena and their prediction are faulty.

Book 1 outlines the Biblical conflict between  astrologers and Christians. It focuses on the differences between natural and human magic, and especially on that by demons. A comparison between miracles and necromancy is also included. Pereira confutes that souls of the dead can really be raised by necromancy. The author investigates the origin of superstition, quoting literary and historical episodes, such as, among others, the use of the magic in the ancient kingdoms of the Pharaohs, the works of Simon Magus and his enchantments discussed by Eusebius, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, etc. Books 2 especially deals with God’s involvement with dreams. Pereira suggests that they have a variety of origins, many are natural, some are of human origins and some are from God, like Solomon’s dreams. Book 3 provides a wide range of rational proofs of the unreliability of astrology and the mistakes of the demons’ predictions.

Only the Cornell University and University of Nebraska copies of this edition recorded in the US. Adams P655; Houzeau-Lancaster 4960; Caillet III 8518; Cantamessa includes reference at end (6011). Not in BM STC. Not in Brunet or Palau.

L2712

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