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Cornelius Agrippa: the Renaissance Magician and Faustian Hero
by Jo Hedesan
Today I want to talk about Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535), the most famous (or infamous) Renaissance magician. He is the author of one of the well-known compendium of Renaissance esotericism, On the Occult Philosophy (or De Occulta Philosophia), which is still admired by people interested in magic today.
Agrippa was a German wanderer, much like his contemporary, Paracelsus. He traveled almost all his life between Germany, France and Italy, and switched professions just as easily as he switched countries. He was a theologian, a lawyer, a physician and a hired soldier. He claimed to have acquired both a law and medicine degree In the meantime, he wrote revolutionary treatises on Renaissance magic, the vanity of knowledge, the status of women in society and Virgin Mary. Most of these he refrained to publish until late in his life.
Agrippa was an unconventional scholar; for instance, in an era when women were seen as inferior and even instruments of the devil, he affirmed that they were in fact superior to men and more spiritual than them. His defense of the female sex caused quite a sensation in the period. In his De Vanitate Scientiarium, On the Vanity of all Sciences, he rejected all forms of knowledge as empty and purposeless. Even today scholars of Agrippa’s works are baffled by his universal rejection of knowledge. He was certainly an unusual iconoclast, an unique character that built and destroyed all at once.
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Registration date : 2008-09-15
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