PEREIRA, Benito.


PEREIRA, Benito. Adversus Fallaces et supersticiosas artes.

Lyon, apud Horatium Cardon, 1603


8vo. pp. (x) 253 [i.e., 252] (viii). Roman letter, little Italic. T-p in red and black with woodcut printer’s device, decorated initials and ornaments. Age browning, small paper flaw to a few lower outer blank corners, tiny worm trails to few blank margins at tail, clean tear to foot of M6 without loss. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, lacking ties, scattered old stains to upper cover, two bite marks to edges. C17 ms. ‘Habet ad (?) Fr. Petri Just ord. Praedicat[orum]’ to ffep, C18 bibliographical inscription to fly verso, unusual c.1600 typeset ex-libris marking Fr. Petrus Just’s bequest to the Dominicans of Perpignan after his death.

This copy was in the Dominican monastery of Perpignan, then part of Catalonia, established in the C13; a fine example of French Gothic. Friar Petrus Just (fl. late C16/early C17) was a ‘magister’ (superior) and appears to have possessed a private library. Upon his death, it was bequeathed to the monastery. This transfer was recorded with a very unusual ex-libris: the typesetting was printed directly onto the t-p, with traces of ‘shoulder ink’, as a 3-line paragraph. It mentions ‘librum hunc cum aliis’, hence this copy was part of a larger bequest, which included incunabula now at the Perpignan and Carcassonne libraries. We have not been able to trace any other instances.

A good copy of the fourth edition of this successful work on magic and superstition, first published in 1591. Benito Pereira, SJ (1530-1610) was a major Spanish theologian, philosopher and exegete, and an influential professor at the Collegium Romanum. His numerous works, on subjects including psychology and mathematics, played an important role in the formation of the principles of ‘Jesuit science’. His metaphysics and psychology in particular had ‘a significant impact on Protestant Germany and Holland’ (Lamanna, ‘Benet Perera’, 273). Based on ancient and modern sources, including Ficino, ‘Adversos fallaces’ groups together Pereira’s texts: a chapter on alchemy from his ‘De principiis’, and two on dreams and astrology from his commentaries to the ‘Book of Daniel’ and ‘Genesis’ (Bulm, ‘Benedictus’, 293). Pereira begins the first book by distinguishing natural magic, based on the concealed and evident properties of things, from magic devoid of reason and truth, false and damaging, connected with demons, fraud and ‘maleficia’, a danger to society. He proceeds with a study of demonic powers, with the assistance of magicians, the nature of miracles, as well as astrology, the kabbalah, necromancy and alchemy, with a conclusion on the origins of magic. The famous psychologist C.G. Jung devoted a long footnote in his ‘Psychology and Religion’ to Pereira’s ‘excellent tract’ about dreams, the second part of ‘De Magia’. Pereira identifies four causes of dreams—bodily affections, emotional commotions of the mind, the power of demons, and true divine presence—considering the functions of reason and will. Inspired by Pico’s ‘Adversus astrologiam’, the third part, on judicial astrology and divination, includes chapters on the vanity of oracles, demonic prophecies, the impossible mediation between Christian and astrological truth, astrologers’ predictions (with mention of comets). For its attention to the powers and nature of demons, it has been considered ‘not only a treatise of witchcraft and magic, but also a manual of exorcism’ (Bib. Esot. 3605).

Caillet III, 8518; Gardner 941; Houzeau-Lancaster 4960; Cantamessa 6011 (mentioned); Sommervogel VI, p.504, n.4. M. Lamanna, ‘Benet Perera’, in Jesuit Philosophy on the Eve of Modernity, ed. C. Casalini (Leiden, 2019), 270-92; P.R. Blum, ‘Benedictus Pererius: Renaissance Culture at the Origins of Jesuit Science’, Science & Education 15 (2006), 279-304.

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