Fragment of the Picatrix
The document presented here is a two-page fragment of the work known in medieval Europe as the Picatrix. This was a book of astronomy, astrology, mystical and occult knowledge, alchemy, and magic composed in Arabic in Moorish Spain some time before the middle of the 11th century. The version known in Europe was a Latin translation of a lost Arabic original, dating from around 1250. The original work was often attributed to the astronomer and mathematician Maslama ibn Ahmad al-Majriti (died circa 1004), but this attribution was disproved by modern scholarship. The title “Picatrix” is thought to be a distortion of the name of the great Greek physician Hippocrates. The fragment shown here dates from the 14th century and was long preserved in the Piarist library in Podolínec, northern Slovakia. It is now in the collections of the Slovak National Library. The German Arabist Wilhelm Printz discovered the Arabic original of the Picatrix in around 1920, the title of which (Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm) has been translated as “The Aim of the Sage” or “The Goal of The Wise.”
Type of Item
- Willy Hartner, “Notes on Picatrix,” Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 56, no. 4 (Winter 1965).
Last updated: March 3, 2016