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Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (b. Cologne, September 14, 1486 – d. Grenoble, France, February 18 1535) was a German magician, occult writer, astrologer, and alchemist.
Additional recommended knowledge
IIn 1512, he taught at the University of Dole in France, lecturing on Johann Reuchlin's De verbo mirifico; as a result, Agrippa was denounced, behind his back, as a "Judaizing heretic." Agrippa's vitriolic response many months later did not endear him to the University.
In 1510, he studied briefly with Johannes Trithemius, and Agrippa sent him an early draft of his masterpiece, De occulta philosophia libri tres, a kind of summa of early modern occult thought. Trithemius was guardedly approving, but suggested that Agrippa keep the work more or less secret; Agrippa chose not to publish, perhaps for this reason, but continued to revise and rethink the book for twenty years.
During his wandering life in Germany, France and Italy he worked as a theologian, physician, legal expert and soldier.
He was for some time in the service of Maximilian I, probably as a soldier in Italy, but devoted his time mainly to the study of the occult sciences and to problematic theological legal questions, which exposed him to various persecutions through life, usually in the mode described above: He would be privately denounced for one sort of heresy or another. He would only reply with venom considerably later.
There is no evidence that Agrippa was seriously accused, much less persecuted, for his interest in or practice of magical or occult arts during his lifetime, apart from losing several positions.
According to his student Johann Weyer, Agrippa died in Grenoble, in 1535.
Appearances in fiction
After Agrippa's death, rumors circulated about his having summoned demons. In the most famous of these, Agrippa, upon his deathbed, released a black dog which had been his familiar. This black dog resurfaced in various legends about Faustus, and in Goethe's version became the "schwarze Pudel" Mephistopheles.
Agrippa is briefly mentioned in the Harry Potter series, appearing on a Chocolate Frog card.
In the nineteenth century, Mary Shelley mentioned him in some of her works. In her gothic novel Frankenstein, Agrippa's works were read and admired by Victor Frankenstein. In her short story The Mortal Immortal, Agrippa is imagined as having created an elixir allowing his apprentice to survive for hundreds of years.
The novel The Fiery Angel (1908) by Valery Bryusov (on which Sergei Prokofiev's opera The Fiery Angel is based), set in the sixteenth century, features a visit paid to Agrippa by the protagonist Ruprecht who is seeking advice on the occult. In novel and opera, Agrippa is presented as being in a dangerous position with the religious authorities: he emphatically denies to Ruprecht that his research is supernatural, stating instead that it is the study of nature itself.
In 1916 Agrippa is briefly mentioned in Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by the protagonist Stephen: "A phrase of Cornelius Agrippa flew through his mind".
In Vaclav Havel's modern rewrite of Doctor Faustus, Fistula tempts Doctor Foustka to indulge in witchcraft, noting that he has several books by occultists such as Agrippa, Nostradamus, Eliphas Levi, and Papus. Temptation: A Play in Ten Scenes.
Agrippa is perhaps best known for his books. An incomplete list:
A spurious Fourth book of occult philosophy, sometimes called Of Magical Ceremonies, has also been attributed to him; this book first appeared in Marburg in 1559 and was certainly not by Agrippa.
(A semi-complete collection of his writings were also printed in Lyon in 1550; more complete editions followed.)
Modern editions of Agrippa's works
No proper modern edition of De vanitate presently exists.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Heinrich_Cornelius_Agrippa". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|